Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Fare

The boys like to be read books.  Tall (when he was small), would bring a book to me and put it in my left hand and sit in my lap.  This indicated it was time to read.  Once finished, if he wanted to hear it again, he would put it back in my left hand.  Small does similar things, carrying around books and putting himself in my lap.

They are nothing if not subtle.

This morning when I tried to lie in bed until 6 am, Small brought me I Went Walking and sat on my chest as I tried to read it to him.  The room was dark, so perhaps "recite" is a better word.  Tall came in few minutes later with Wildlife ABC, but none of this darkness thing for him.  He turned on the lamp too.

We are quite happy to read to them.  It's important, I think to engage people in a love of books wherever possible.  I love reading myself.  Adrian has started reading more too.  The turnover rate of books on our bedside table is quite impressive, and while his tend to be non-fiction (and mostly theological), it keeps us all happy.

It's fun to make the voices and point out the different things on the page.  It's great now that they are old enough to read page books instead of just destroying them.  Board books are great too. Highly resilient.  I've just had to toss away one page book that had too many pages reft from it.

The only problem that I have with all this reading is when the books are wrong.  I'm not speaking here of the specs on a motorbike.  Probably those are right, or at any rate I can't correct them.  Plus, the boys are mainly focused on "geen bike!" more than the PSI of the tires (tyres for you Aussies).

Reading teaches us things.  It teaches us to ponder on why things happen.  It lets us see other worlds and ideas.  It broadens our horizons.  And fundamentally, it teaches us minor things like grammar, syntax and spelling.

How much more basic can a sentence be than "See Spot."? Implied subject.  Verb.  Object.  These are the building blocks of forming sensible sentences.

So, it bothers me when a book I read to my children says things like this: "When going down hills, you should go slow." Are adverbs so insignificant?  Let them thrive, children's book publishers!  "When going down hills, you should go slowly." And then we all learn together.  Beauty.  I know that it is not in vogue to care about the state of our poor language, but it is everyday ravaged by morons on youtube and anywhere one can comment.  Breaking grammatical rules can be fun and effective for a point, but should we not try harder at these first sentences?  We try harder with first foods than that which follows.

And it frustrates me when I see a page in a comparisons book that throws the rules away at the end.  Picture some nesting dolls and beneath them these words "biggest  bigger  big  small  smaller  tiny".
Seriously, what is that? First of all, you need to read it from the middle of the page and outwards for the comparative and superlatives to make sense and then, what, just deny the pattern and throw away an easy superlative like smallest to replace it with "tiny"?!

Or that children's book that a friend told me about where beside the letter P there was an elephant.  Unless the rest of the book was aimed for mensa-babies, I'm not sure that they meant pachyderm.

Sometimes, it's just the content that leaves me baffled.  I read one book to my sons about "bravery" except it was played out as peer pressure. And the sheep failed.
Jump over the puddle!
Jump over the puddle!
Jump over the puddle! 
And then he fell in.  Because his friends forced him to do something and wouldn't take no for an answer.  Brilliant.  Let me get the whole series.

This may seem ridiculous to you.  I am a ridiculous person and not really that serious about the whole thing, but there is a bit of permanent marker in a few of our books.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Snailboxes, et c.

Man, first trimester is a difficult thing.  If it weren't for first trimester, I think I'd have 15 kids! Well, that and labour.  And teething.  And...

While I am aware that I've been out of first trimester for awhile, the real boost of energy and go-to drive that accompanies second was a bit delayed this year.  If you get good and worn out, that energy can't buoy you up.  After the international travel, it takes awhile to boost up the old batteries.  Add to that a beautiful (now) one year old who has problems teething and registers his protest with vaccinations in the middle of the night, I've done a few miles in the ol' rocking chair and relearned just how painful it is to step on toys in the dark.  My husband is an amazing man who helps lots with night time woes. He lets me have an extra rest in the morning so I don't get out of bed til quarter after 6, or even 6:30!

Because of the duration of lethargy, it's only just recently that second trimester zip has zapped me.  I'm still tired, but now I'm tired and armed with cleaning utensils.  I also haven't blogged as much.  Here then (after the lengthiest intro ever) are a collection of stories that I have been collecting for months. About 6 of them.  Say 22-24 weeks' worth. (I started this post a month ago.  Yeesh.  And the mornings are a bit earlier.  Today I got up at 4:25)

(And because it has taken me three months to write this post, I'm now 8 months pregnant.  And half the stories I was going to share, I can't even remember. Shucks.)

Snailboxes, et c.
A long time ago now, a friend from church came by one afternoon to play with the boys.  We played outside and she, being a very experienced mother and grandmother, was coming up with all sorts of different things to do to keep Tall going.  It is a very true statement that some children need to keep doing and doing as their energy multiplies faster than bunnies.  One thing that she showed him to do was to pick up a snail and pop it in the hole in the mailbox.  Fun times, no?  Hand-eye coordination and all that.  However, for the next few months all he wanted to do when near the mailbox was fill it with snails.  We have plenty of snails on offer, but I can't say as that's what they were meant for.  And when he had put all the snails away, he wanted to take them out and put them away again.

Fine and dandy.  Keeps him occupied and as long as the snails leave the mailbox at the end of the play, no problems, right?  Except perhaps when you go for a walk a few days later and he finds a piece of trash on the ground and before you can squeak out "No, Tall, stop!" he deposits in a neighbour's mailbox.  What do you do at that point? Do you open the mailbox and remove the trash? No, because you can't touch other people's mail.  It's illegal and all that.  And then you know if you open someone's mailbox, that vital information will stay with him forever and ever and all walks will be filled with a Tall miscreant opening mailboxes to the chagrin of his tired mother.

The Muffin Men
Small quite enjoys eating muffins.  Tall quite enjoys stirring.  It is not uncommon for me to bake something merely for the entertainment it affords the children.  Somedays are easy-peasy and all goes well.  On other days, I have made breakfast cookies (oatmeal from the milk calendar) that didn't have any sugar in them.  Or there was that time I made Small's birthday cake and Tall dumped in extra flour, so Mom added a bit of milk and miraculously it all turned out (and was quite yummy, if I do say so myself).  Or the time that Tall "helped" with the salt and we had some very tangy popovers.  Tasted good with tomato...  Muffin time often ends with dry ingredients on the counter. Or floor. Perhaps my eyebrows.  I'll also be mildly frantic, trying to put out fires (figurative, thankfully. Only one literal and that wasn't the boys fault...) and when the muffins get in the oven, the vacuum comes out.  Vacuums are a very exciting thing for children and I'm not sure why.  At any rate, I have to say, I don't know why people claim that baking is an exact art.  My kitchen often proves that bread will prove (ha!) without knowing what exactly went in it and that baked goods will see taste good even if the measurements are all wrong.

Climb Ev'ry Mountain
Small is a climber.  Enough to strike fear in the hearts of the toughest of people, a climber can get into anything, anywhere, anytime.  When he was just 10 months old, he independently climbed 14 steps in order to play with bath toys with his cousin.  When I went looking for him a minute or two later I was shocked at where those boys had ended up.  He's climbed up the back of chairs, on top of the vacuum cleaner, from pillows onto the couch, into chairs, up the side of his brother's bed via bed rail...  Tall sees him climb and remembers how much fun it was to climb and goes one further. Onto windowsills, the back of the couch, into wheelbarrows, up the shelves of the hall cupboard to have a "nap" on the third shelf.  One time recently Small saw an opportunity and used it to the full.  The step stool had been left by the sink for his potty training brother.  Small went up, grabbed the comb and attempted to tidy his hair while simultaneously brushing his teeth (thankfully with his toothbrush and not anyone else's).  It was delightfully cute.  He was so proud of himself.  Shortly thereafter, the stool moved again.  Another day, he used his brother's chair to climb up on to the table, not once, but twice (even though the chair had moved away from the table in between time) and at the second time, decided to dip the remotes (on the table to be out of reach of his brother) into a handy glass of water.  He's determined!  Even after we added an impediment to the back of the chair (cardboard covering all footholds), he turned it around and learned to climb the front.

Maybe I should put them in gymnastics or something.  Ninja Warrior, maybe.

Forts 'r' us
One sure fire way to keep little people entertained is to hang a sheet over a couple of chairs. A fort!  We do love our forts and they get made often.  Lately it seems like forts are made to be broken however as Small attempts to climb onto them (why!?) and Tall likes to "cookie" them (more on that later).  But forts are a delightful way to spend time.  Everything is a bit more fun in a fort. I don't know why.  The act of hanging a sheet over a piece of furniture means one thing: fun.  I don't get it. They do.  This is why my living room looks that way.

"Cookie" Monster
Tall is interested in putting things together, but also interested in taking things apart.  When he does, he sometimes says "cookie, cookie".  I wonder if Cookie Monster's bad eating habits appear to my dear son as just a delightful form of destruction.  Cookie Monster never seems to gain weight.  Perhaps there is something there for us all to learn!

Balloon Animals
For Small's birthday we blew up balloons.  Want to see kids go crazy? Blow up balloons.  No idea why this works, but balloons make for fantastic times. You can run in them. Kick them. Throw them. Draw on them.  It's all good and it's all hyper.

Yes Man
Small has started nodding lately.  It's hilarious because it's actually a pretty good help as to what he wants.  If you walk near the kitchen and he starts nodding - he's probably thirsty.  If he nods when you eat a snack, he wants it.  If he nods in answer to a question, he usually means it.  It's a very cute little thing.  "Small, do you want to read a book?" He nods.  "Small, do you want to go outside?"  He nods. "Small, do you want to antagonize your brother?" Oh, wait he doesn't nod to that, he just relishes in it.  "Small, do you need a bum change?" He shakes head.  But that, of course, is a lie.

The Mud Puddle Jumped on Me
What does a hose mean to little boys? Mud puddles!  What does rain mean to little boys? Mud puddles!  What does a bucket at the beach mean? Mud puddles!  Anywhere and anytime possible, mud puddles are made.  The best thing to do with a mud puddle is to jump in it.  If you are wearing light coloured clothing, so much the better.  Especially if Mom has just changed you for some reason.  Even better if your little brother is there and he can mosey on through on his belly.  We've had quite a few jumpsuits mudified.  And the best time to make a puddle? When Mom has turned her head for three seconds.  I usually just let it happen at that point.  They have fun.  They get dirty.  It's not like the clothes can be salvaged at that point and there's something about mud that's just so appealing to little fellows.  I'm not sure what exactly, but I'm sure my washing is pleased.  It never gets neglected.

The Plot of (Almost) Every Kid's Movie About a Horse
Once upon a time there was a young urban girl who, for some reason, has to go to stay with a male relative on a rural farm.  She is none too pleased about this and is frustrated/whingy/lonely (choose one).  One day she is given/finds a horse that is lonely/neglected and the two of them have adventures together.  Suddenly, she is pleasant and happy and helps out on the farm.  Something happens to the horse.  Probably, he gets lost.  She is sad.  The male relative helps her with this horse problem.  She is then given the opportunity to leave the farm.  She chooses to stay.  And they all live happily ever after.

Whether the Weather...
It is gross outside today.  I've just come in from hanging the laundry.  It's like an oven.  It's 44C with a hot, dry wind.  Your feet sting as you walk across the paving stones (even those in shade) and the spiders come out and wait for you to kill them.  It's just too hot to hide today.  What do you do with two little boys who prefer outdoors to indoors on such a day?  The pool? Not really.  The rec center air has open windows all day long so the temperature is much the same as outside.  Except stacked with humidity.  The beach?  I could feel my skin toasting as I hung towels and flung nappies (which were not only dry but hard like boards and hot) into the basket.  Movie about horses and play in the tub? Sounds like the afternoon.   I don't even want to bake (which is entertainment and delicious) because I don't want to turn on the oven.  Here's hoping that it's not like this next week, 'cause I have a turkey in the freezer and he desires to be Christmas dinner.

At any rate, happy Christmas! I'll try to blog again one day.  It'll have to be short, because this three months to write one post thing is a wee bit ridiculous.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Small Milestones

Last Monday was Small's first birthday. Yesterday was Small's baptismal birthday.

I'm not going to lie, I was tired before the birthday and not entirely looking forward to making cakes and setting up for a party that he won't remember.  Birthdays seem to matter less as an adult; after all, they come every year!  It's not that I don't love him.  Life has been really tiring and trying lately and it's hard to want to do more than is already necessary.  I was not adverse to celebrating him, just tired out and not wanting to put in the effort.

And yet, when that day dawned (even before it truly dawned - I was awake by 4:30), everything was different.  No amount of effort was too much.  When the clock struck 4:38 am, I wished my beautiful boy a happy birthday.  My heart burned with a special pride as I looked at my not sleeping boy.  Just one year ago, he was born.  For just one year (on the outside), he had been making our lives more special, more challenging, more amazing.  I told him bits of his birth day.  I marvelled at what one year can do.  I watched my Small fellow toddle about the place, playing with his brother, exploring, discovering and viewed with wonder all his little habits and quirks.  His little machine gun laugh.  His penchant for glasses.  His love of cuddling.

Suddenly I had bursts of energy and wanted to shout out to the world, "Look at my boy! He's one already! How he has grown! How he has changed! How he has changed me..."

The day was spent in relative normalcy, but there was a special hue to the day, as if joy had been rubbed on all the tough bits and smoothed them out.  His brother helped me make the birthday cupcakes (chocolate with lemon buttercream icing).  They barely touched their cupcakes (the second cake for the party went over much better for the birthday boy - banana cake with buttercream icing and candy berries).

It was a good day.  Nah, it was a brilliant day.  Praise be to God for my little boy.  I'm so glad that we have little things like birthdays to sit back at peruse more deeply the blessings God gives.  Days that we celebrate the everyday blessings like how fast a little baby boy can grow (and climb!).

Happy Birthday Small.  It's been a wonderful, difficult, incredible year.  I'm so glad you're part of our life.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

To do some more

I haven't written much lately.  I could tell you it's because I'm not on the internet much, but that's not quite true.  I don't spend tonnes of time on it, but I certainly check facebook and buzzfeed.  I could tell you it's because I have nothing to write, but that's completely untrue.  I write posts in my head - just outlines and titles, certain phrases.  Indeed, part of why I haven't written is because I have things to write.

Our family is getting bigger again in January (please God).  It makes me very happy to know this, but also very tired.  There is this state that I like to call "first trimester" wherein all one has energy for is lying on the couch and feeling nauseated.  However, when one has two children, aged 2 and less and than 1, lying on the couch is not an option. Not until nap time.  So when I thought about blogging, it remained thought.  And on the off chance I had energy, I had this news to share, which I couldn't share yet.

And with this lovely news, comes a brand-new to do list filled with all sorts of things that are important and need doing.  Indeed, this list combines many things. So many that I haven't been able to bring myself to write it down. When will accomplish these things? Nap time is only so long and my couch is ever so inviting.  Plus, I do get stuff done on the couch - like folding laundry.

At any rate, this post is turning into a great big stall instead of what it was meant to be: two lines to indicate that I have a big to do list that I am afraid of -- well, not afraid of, more overwhelmed by -- and which therefore I have not scrawled down on a scrap of paper as is my usual modus operandi.

Without further ado or rambling except for this sentence which promises to get longer and longer -- hey look, clouds! -- I shall post my to do list with the hope that you will help me get things done by occasionally saying "Hey, how's that item on your to do list going? Or are you just a giant slacker who gets nothing done? And why are you not working on something right now? Because you appear to be checking online to see if I'm holding you accountable, and frankly that's just adding things to my to do list and that's not fair, missy!". Or perhaps you aren't saying that at all.  All I can say in my defence, is head colds and housework don't mix.

To Do List (some of these items are in fact permanent fixtures of the list. They get ticked off, but never removed as they are to be done on a daily or weekly basis.  Just like me. I get ticked off, but never removed from the housewife roster. (Is that the longest title you've ever seen to a list? I'm such a good procrastinator. Procrastinator is a cool word.  Like terminator.  Or lemur.))

  • dishes
  • laundry
  • wash nappies (a subset of laundry, sure, but deserving of its own line)
    • fold nappies
  • sweep
  • vacuum
  • clean bathrooms, sinks
  • wash floor
  • eat chocolate
  • make dinner
  • bake with the children
  • paint the boys' new room
    • buy paint. Spend weeks agonising over colour choice and end up choosing in two minutes
    • realize will never have time/energy to paint boys' room
    • hire painter
    • wait for painter to be available
    • move everything out of boys' new room for painter
  • move the furniture into the boys' new room
  • paperwork that appears from nowhere and always seems to be the same thing as that which I've just accomplished
    • misplace paperwork
    • find and complete paperwork in the final weeks before it is due, feeling stressed and frustrated
  • clean out storage room
  • determine where the old furniture from the boys' new room will go
  • set up nursery
  • go for a walk
  • potty train eldest
    • there is a whole subset list to this which may become its own blog post, provided I can do it in a way that is truthful but not too scarring for life for my child
  • develop outdoor hobby
    • write blog post about outdoor hobby
  • determine when swimming lessons start up again and sign up children
  • put away toys
    • develop a better system for toys being away
    • buy storage containers, OR
    • throw away all toys and give children one cardboard box to play with
  • Christmas shopping (I like to get the international stuff done early)
  • ultrasound
  • sort through the boys' clothes, getting out larger and putting away smaller
    • also, the closets for nappy exchange
  • correspondance
  • prepare for second son's birthday party
    • invitation
    • decoration (thoughts/ purchase/ make/ arrange)
    • cake
    • other food
    • clean house first. AND after. (This always seems unfair to me.  Is it wrong to give guests dustbusters and tell them to look after themselves?)
  • vehicle exchange
    • find suitable vehicles
    • realize that there are no suitable vehicles within a 350 km radius of home
    • get frustrated
    • figure it out
  • reorganize pantry
  • make playdough
  • buy carseat
    • research carseats
  • buy chest of drawers
  • desire to go to IKEA
  • look through IKEA catalogue
  • go to IKEA, but not for a few months yet, so can be super pregnant and cranky whilst shopping with a little boy and toddler
  • lament living in the middle of nowhere
  • go to the park
  • run errands
  • go to the library
  • put away DVDs and books and everything else that the toddler has strew about the house
  • teach children a foreign language
  • or how to count to ten
  • or what, metaphysically, is a horse
  • realize need new maternity pants
    • purchase pants in 2 minutes during online shopping, having no time to be leisurely at shopping even in own house (after being frustrated that a local clothing shop will not stock them as live in too "regional" an area - because as we all know, people in small towns do not have babies)
  • work on boys' baby books
  • and scrapbooks
  • look longingly at coffee pot and wonder when coffee will taste good again
  • sort photos on computer
  • back up computer
  • print photos
  • more correspondence
  • set up playdates
  • groceries
  • figure out what toddler will eat now that he wants to feed himself
  • make soup anyway because soup is delicious
  • develop head cold at the same time as children and try to care for them and keep moving
  • read that book about toddlers 
  • and that other book that is made of funny things
  • edit
  • clean out laundry
  • buy steam cleaner
  • find beautiful print of the Lord's Prayer
    • get frustrated with etsy
  • mail correspondence
  • read terrifying article about canola oil
    • buy sunflower oil
    • realize that sunflower oil works and tastes better
  • buy more kleenex
  • dance
  • teach boys to be good men
  • go to the beach
And there is probably more. I'll come back to this and add or cross out as I finish things.  How's your to do list going?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

To Ashley and Owen

Congratulations, my wonderful friend!  Congratulations, very smart man!

I'm so happy for both of you that you have been married this weekend.  The weather cooperated, the dress was gorgeous and it was great to see your smiling faces on that day - that special day when God made you one forever.

(No, I didn't sneak in the back, I saw a photo.)

Here's to you as you take these first steps as husband and wife.  Here's to you as you reorganize cupboards and share the closet.  It's surprising how much room men's clothes can take up in a closet.  Here's to you as you share meals and cookbooks, get into a rhythm, start traditions, discover quirks that have remained hidden the last couple years.  Here's to you as you struggle through small spats and get over inadvertent wounds.  They happen when people fuse together a life.  If welding can cause a bit of heat, people are much worse.  And harder to melt and reform.  So here's to you as you forgive and salve hurts in the little ways that only you can, as you hold each other, kiss and dance to the music that you can agree on.

Here's to the future, full of memories yet to be made, adventures yet to be taken, paths yet to be walked.    Here's to you as you share your love and your lives -- that is to say, your life.  Here's to you as you work at maintaining your friendship as well as cultivating your love.  Here's to silly moments that only you two know about.

Everyone raise your glass to this lovely couple as they celebrate their two day anniversary.  Every anniversary is worth celebrating, after all.  We wish you all the best and will keep you in our prayers.

PS - I hear Western Australia is a lovely place for a honeymoon.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Awesome Movie Song Quote

Who needs just obscurity when you can sing too?  These choices are all from songs sung in the movie, not background music.  Many of them have been stuck in my head a time or two - three of them today alone!  Enjoy the sing-along!

[Hint: Disney movies have lots of singing.]

1.  What I love most about rivers is
     You can't step in the same river twice.
     The water's always changing, always flowing.  Just Around the River Bend - Pocahontas 

2.  I'm in a store and I'm singing.  
     I'm in a store and I'm singing!  Buddy the Elf in Elf

3.  The very words that they had sung
     Became their last communion
     On the lonely barricade at dawn
     Empty Chairs at Empty Tables - Les Miserables

4.  Can't make no vows to a herd of cows.
     Now when the men folk went to fetch 'em
     The women would not be fetched.
     It seems when the Romans catch 'em,
     Their lady friends stay catched.  Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

5.  Say you love me every waking moment,
     Turn my head with talk of summertime...  All I Ask of You - The Phantom of the Opera

6.  There goes the baker
     With his tray like always
     The same old bread and rolls to sell  Belle - Beauty and the Beast

7.  And ready to know what the people know
     Ask 'em my questions and get some answers
     What's a fire and why does it - what's the word?
     Burn?     Part of Your World - The Little Mermaid

8.  Some other folks might be
     A little bit smarter than I am
     Bigger and stronger too
     But none of them will ever love you the way I do
     It's me and you   You've Got a Friend in Me - Toy Story

9.  The violins sing with joyful ring
     The violins sing with joyful ring!
     The clarinet, the clarinet 
     Goes doodly-doodly-doodly-doodly-det.  You've Got Mail

10.  When I was a young boy
       My mama said to me
       There's only one girl in the world for you
       And she probably lives in Tahiti
       I'd go the whole wide world
       I'd go the whole wide world
       Just to find her  Whole Wide World - Stranger than Fiction

11.  He had a green card, new house, big cash
       So made a wish with every fallen lash
       For you to do the journey with him
       To smile when he got home ask how his day had been  No Life Without Wife - Bride and Prejudice

12.  I'm dreaming of a boy,
       A very special guy.
       I wish that I could pluck
       A fairy from the sky.   Get Over It

13.  Never ever thinkin' there was danger in the water
       They were drinkin', they just guzzled it down
       Never dreamin' that a schemin' sherrif and his posse
       Was a-watchin' them an' gatherin' around  Robin Hood and Little John- Disney's Robin Hood

14.  I just wanna see the floating lanterns gleam
       Yeah And with every passing hour
       I'm so glad I left my tower
       Like all you lovely folks,
       I've got a dream.  I've Got a Dream - Tangled

15.  Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
       Perhaps I had a miserable youth
       But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
       There must have been a moment of truth.  Something Good - The Sound of Music

16.  Why are there so many songs about rainbows
       And what's on the other side?
       Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
       And rainbows have nothing to hide.  The Rainbow Connection - The Muppet Movie

17.  I'm gonna be the mane event
Like no king was before
I'm brushing up on looking down
       I'm working on my roar  I Just Can't Wait to Be King - The Lion King

18.  Soon all the church bells will be ringing
  And I'll march with Ma and Pa.
       All the church bells will be ringing,
       With a hey nonny nonny and a hotcha-cha cha.  Fit as a Fiddle - Singin' in the Rain

19.  Prince John and the Sheriff
They was running the show
       Raising the taxes
       'Cause they needed the dough
       A reign of terror
       Took over the land
       They was shaking down the people
       Just to beat the band
       - Hey nonny nonny and a ho ho ho  Opening Song - Robin Hood Men in Tights

20. A robin feathering his nest
      Has very little time to rest
      While gathering his bits of twine and twig
      Though quite intent in his pursuit
      He has a merry tune to toot
      He knows a song will move the job along  A Spoon Full of Sugar - Mary Poppins

21.  Oh, there's no fire in the fireplace
       There's no carpet on the floor
       Don't try to order dinner
       There's no kitchen anymore
       But if the road's been kinda bumpy
       And you need to rest a spell
       Well, welcome home
       To ----------------------------- !  Happiness Hotel - The Great Muppet Caper.

And there you have it.  I'm just shocked that I forgot to put a song in from Pirates of Penzance.  This lack of sleep thing really catches up with you after a few years...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Two Day

Today my eldest son is two. It's shocking and amazing and wonderful. I can't believe two years have gone by already. I can't believe it's only been two years.

To celebrate Tall, I thought I'd tell a few stories about him.

Helping Hands
When Tall wants something done but he finds himself unable to do it, he's always got a plan.  He might grab a chair and climb higher.  He might dig a bit deeper.  Often however, he realizes that he needs help to get it done.

That's when he reaches out for a helping hand.  For over a year now, he's grabbed my hand and put it on a book he wants read.  Or put the book back in my left hand if he wants to hear it again.  He puts a shovel in my hand if the ground is too hard for him.  He takes my hand to climb higher, to walk on curbs, to get down stairs, to work the computer, to use the television (in such times, the hands may not accomplish that which is desired), to get things opened, to get things closed.  He sometimes uses my finger to point to things to learn what they are.  "Car!" Pig!" "Lemur!" In essence, he uses my hands as an extension of himself.  It's nice to be so trusted and needed.

One day whilst eating yogurt for dessert, he started eating with his fingers. Upon being reprimanded, he grabbed my hand dipped my finger in the yogurt and quick as a flash ate it. *Sigh* There are many things for which to have a helping hand, but eating yogurt is not one of them.

Want to go for a Walk?
Walking with my two year (oh goodness, he's two!) is always an adventure.  I've had to train myself to not get frustrated with all of the stopping and exploring. Exploring is good and a ten minute walk taking 40 is fantastic. He's the kind of kid with energy to burn - the kind who siphons it off unsuspecting parents and would prefer to use it outside please.

He tries to walk off the path, though the thick grass. He points out trees and foliage, animals and trucks. He knows exactly where in town all his favourite things are and when you are steering him away from them. He will trudge along acting exhausted, wanting to be carried until he realizes he's headed to a park and then he tears off, running as fast as his boots can carry (which by the way, is slower. If you're trying to slow down your kid, let him wear rubber boots.).

These walks are great though. He sees so many things that I just don't notice. Any sound is a reason to stop. A bird. A plane. I'm sure he would stop for Superman, but we're just so far from Metropolis City. We study trucks and flowers. We pick up sticks and put them through fences and try to put chocolate milk containers in mailboxes (and no, I'm not sure why he thought was a good idea).  We know the location of every dog in a four block radius.

Good Boy?
Somedays Tall does things he shouldn't.  We don't want him playing with the split system heater/cooler, so when he climbed on top of something he shouldn't have to open a drawer he shouldn't have to play with a remote that he shouldn't have, I took the remote away and put it somewhere I thought was safe.  Later that day, I saw him playing in that same drawer and went from reprimand to confusion when I saw the remote back in the drawer.  I asked Adrian if he had moved it. No. Tall had found it and was putting it back where it belonged when I caught him.  I then tried to commend him.  Ah, all that can happen in the space of a minute.

We're trying to teach him to put his drink on a coaster on the table. Not that we care as much about rings on the table, but he tends to put drinks on the edge of the table and we have the coaster much further in-land.  I caught Tall wandering with his milk the other day (a definite no no) and saw it stop on the couch. I went over the rescue and noted that he had found a coaster, put it on the couch cushion and put his cup on it.

And the digging! Oh, the time we spend outside. And I want to be out with him because I don't like bugs and there are like 8569 kinds of bugs in Australia and 9342 of those want to kill you. Yeah, I know there are more that want to kill you than exist. That's how serious they are about the whole thing. So I just don't think he's ready to be outside by himself for long right now and so we dig and play with balls and all sorts.

Oh, the last two years have been the most frustrating, exciting, worrisome, tiring, amazing, incredible, beautiful, full on, best years of my life.  That little boy is a blessing, whether he's trying to help his brother play or playing on my last nerve.  Thank you God, for Tall. And help me be a better mother to my wonderful fellows.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Love for love

I started this post on Ash Wednesday.  I'd just been to service with my two sons and after we returned home, marked with our sin and repentance, I really had something to say.

Don't ask me what it was now; it's Easter Sunday and Ash Wednesday was a long time ago.  I'm sure it was profound though.  All lost thoughts seem to be tinged with profundity.  Profundity is probably a shade of chartreuse.  Provided that's the green one.  I always get chartreuse and vermillion confused.

All that stuck with me was this line from Jesus, I Will Ponder Now - "may I give you love for love."

I find that Holy Week is often a time of pondering for me.  I try to take time to meditate specifically on the Passion on Good Friday.  I like cold parks and solitude.  I didn't find it this year.  Solitude is a rarity for me at the moment.  The pondering found me and once again I tried to really understand the depth, the width, the height of the sacrifice that God made in sending Jesus to die the most horrendous death, abandoned, alone, covered in the filth and stench of eons of sin.  I still can't comprehend it. I can imagine the happenings, I know them so well and not enough.  I can picture faces and expressions, but they are stapled together fragments from paintings and pictures I've seen across the years.  I still feel anger toward Peter, forsaking his Saviour.  I revile Judas even as I pity him.  I weep with the Marys at the foot of the cross.

It's a strange thing, though, coming at this from a hindsight perspective.  I know what happens next.  The despair and confusion that all of Jesus' followers were plunged into, that I cannot fathom.  It's as far removed from me as petticoats.  It's something that happened, but I know now so well that that then just doesn't compute fully.  I understand that it happened, but the overwhelming joy and hope that has come from Jesus' resurrection on Easter has so pervaded my thinking, my being that I just can't fully understand Holy Week.

I get caught up in the daily humdrum. It's full of trials and difficulties, sure.  But that's not the same thing.

And even now, living as I do, a life where I know that my Redeemer lives and because He lives I too shall live, I still struggle and fight and wrestle with my own ridiculousness. My own selfishness.  My own sin.  I try to take on my struggles by myself.  I fall flat a lot.

I do not give love for love.  I give struggle and frustration and all sorts and get back love.  I fail and fight and flee and I am given love.  I try to love and get distracted and still I am given love.  The struggle of sanctification can be boiled down to trying to give love for love.  It is the eternal pursuit.

And still I am made free by the blood of the Lamb, shed for me.

This makes no sense, I realise that.  I guess when it comes down to it, all I'm trying to say is: "Blessed Easter".  So,

Blessed Easter.

Jesus, I Will Ponder Now - Sigismund von Birken
Jesus, I will ponder now
On your holy Passion;
With your Spirit me endow
For such meditation.
Grant that I in love and faith
May the image cherish
Of your suffering, pain, and death
That I may not perish.

Make me see your great distress,
Anguish, and affliction,
Bonds and stripes and wretchedness
And your crucifixion;
Make me see how scourge and rod,
Spear and nails did wound you,
How you died for those, O God,
Who with thorns had crowned you.

Yet, O Lord, not thus alone
Make me see your Passion;
But its cause to me make known
And its termination.
For I also and my sin
Brought your deep affliction;
This the shameful cause has been
Of your crucifixion.

If my sins give me alarm
And my conscience grieve me,
Let your cross my fear disarm,
Peace and pardon give me.
Grant that I may trust in you
And your holy Passion;
If his Son forgives anew,
God must have compassion.

Jesus, Lord, my heart renew,
Let me bear my crosses,
Learning humbleness from you,
Peace despite my losses.
May I give you love for love!
Hear me, O my Savior,
That I may in heaven above
Sing your praise forever.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Today I Taught My Son to Use a Pitchfork, and other stories

Warning: this post contains nudity.  Parental guidance is recommended.

You know that thing where your child is playing nicely with his plastic animals?  Where they stomp around and eat the carpet grass and stack on top of each other?  And then you get the video camera and set it up sneakily only to catch the animals being run over by a tractor and spread about the room?  All in all it's a shocking hilarious moment which you intend to replay many times until you realize that you accidentally bumped the dial and it never actually recorded.

It seems like life is full of all of these funny moments that are completely unexpected.  I hope you need a laugh (and I hope you get a laugh) from the following:

Smooth Operator
A few months ago now, Tall got into the hand lotion.  This is not uncommon.  He likes to do what Mom and Dad do and slaps his hands together and acts all grown up.  That day, however, he dropped it on the floor and started to smear it into the floorboards at the end of his parents bed.  He proceeded to walk backwards and forwards through it, slipping and sliding and giggling with glee.  This is also the day that I learned that trying to clean floorboards just makes them slipperier.  Soap.  Vinegar.  Rubbing.  Maybe I should have tried sand?

Lately when he's had the opportunity, he's taken a bit of lotion and methodically rubbed it onto his nose.  I think we go to the beach too much.

Bite Me
Around that time (18 months of age or so), Tall often kissed his brother with his mouth open.  He's learned to close it now.  But then it was this gaping maw that was pressed (sometimes with a bit of force) against some part of a loved one's head.  One day after he "kissed" his brother and his brother started to cry, I saw little marks on Small's nose.

"Tall," I said, "You cannot bite your brother's nose."

"Nose." He agreed sticking both index fingers deeply up his nostrils.

Me Time
There's nothing like a bit of me time, right? One Saturday afternoon, Adrian took Tall to the back yard, Small was napping and Mommy had a wee bit of time for a relaxing bath and a chance to shave her legs.  I was well set up, glass of water (I'm breastfeeding here!), book and for some reason, I'd grabbed the phone.  This turned out to be a good thing as about thirty-three seconds into the bath, someone knocked on the door.  I grabbed the phone and called Adrian's cell (mobile) and muttered "there's someone at the door."  I decided to start shaving right away and just as I was nearing the finish of the first leg, Small started screaming.  You know the one, the "I'm-the-hungriest-that-I've-ever-been-please-feed-me-now-or-I-will-somehow-get-louder-still".  I took my last swipe with the razor, grabbed my towel and fastened it as I ran.  As I got to the crib (cot), my towel slipped and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the woman who must have been at the door pass by the quite open window.  I grabbed the child and hid in the closet, feeding him and hoping Adrian would come in so I'd know the coast was clear.

Three's Company
We had company in January and one day they were all across the street.  Tall and I were grubby, so I took the opportunity to clean up.  Purposely not locking the front door so the company could get back in, I instead firmly closed my bedroom door and brought Tall into our en suite shower with me.  Small was napping.

After the shower, I towelled Tall off, noting that I'd only brought one towel into the bathroom.  Small started crying, so I padded out to the crib in the corner of our room.  Tall zoomed along beside me wrapped in the towel and noticed the open door (what was that now?) took off.  I saw the open door.  How was the door open?  Apparently the lock needs an even firmer firm close and a wind gust had opened it.  I stood stock still in the room, knowing that Tall a) loves outside, b)can open the front door, c)the front door opens to the road, d)he was naked, and e) I was naked.

What do you do?  Make a skyclad dash through the house hoping the company's not home? As I made to tear after him, I heard a sound.  One of the company's children was home. "Can you grab Tall?" I bellowed anxiously, struggling to put on any and all clothing close to me.

It's All About the Delivery
Small has these great skills of needing people when it is most awkward or inopportune.  He also likes to get whingy and cryish in the evening.  Many babies do.  He also gets hyper at the same time, so he'll either cry or be very happy.  I looked down at him, and thinking of my aching back said, "you know, you could have stayed in a week longer and turned around and come out the right way." He laughed.  I picked him up and started telling him his birth story.  This is an honest, unretouched account of part of our conversation:

Mommy: It felt like I was going to break in half
Small: [chortles]
Mommy: It was the worst pain I've ever experienced.
Small: [squeal of delight]
Mommy: And there was an explosion and I was quite concerned. What happened?
Small: [giggles with glee]

Silence Is Golden?
Yesterday morning, we woke up early as usual to a Tall who wanted to get going.  Often he takes a quick run around the house after having a cuddle in bed with us and we get up a couple of minutes later.  That morning he was unusally quiet.  I'm on the high alert about that. "Honey," I said to Adrian, "can you just check on him? He's awfully quiet." From the other room we hear Tall make an excited noise. "He's alright," says Adrian, "he's making noise again." Tall reentered our room and handed his father his object of delight.  It was the arm of my glasses, snapped clean off.

Today I Taught My Son to Use a Pitchfork
(My husband assured me after reading this that what we have is in fact a "garden fork" which is nowhere near as pointy as a pitchfork, but I think "pitchfork" sounds cooler.  But Tall was always supervised, so stop worrying.)

Yesterday evening the pitchfork made it out of the shed via a very helpful Tall, but it didn't make it back in.  Today when we were playing outside, Tall was fascinated with it and kept pushing it around and making tractor noises.  I suppose this says good things for his imagination, that he was using it as a combine (cultivator), but I didn't feel that it was a good plan to be pushing pointing spikes about the place.  Instead we took to aerating soil patches, using it like a shovel.  It was so cute the way he put his little foot up on it, believing that he was pushing it into the ground while I pushed hard down with my hands on the handle.

I'm a little tired now.  We dug for a couple hours over the day.  Had we had a haystack, we probably would have dug into that, but that perhaps would have been too much like work for Tall and not enough like destruction.

I hope you've had a laugh at my expense.  If not, you may want to get to the doctor and get your funny bone checked out, or you could watch or read one of the following:

Frasier, Season 4, Episode 18 "Ham Radio"; Season 5, Episode 14 - The Ski Lodge
Corner Gas, Season 4, Episode 15 "Lacey Borrows"
Miranda, Series 1, Episode 3, "Job"
Noises Off
The last chapter of Bridget Jones, The Edge of Reason
Anything by Dave Barry
The Luck of the Bodkins by PG Wodehouse
The Cowboy Way

Monday, January 21, 2013


It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you start an article with the phrase "it is a truth universally acknowledged that..." you automatically lend yourself brilliance with an homage to a great piece of English literature, namely Bubs and Lola Hit the Slots.

And yet, sometimes you read an article and it sticks with you anyway.  I read one the other day about a woman's drive to not succumb to consumerism and to spend a year free from spending on her son.  A call back to the old days of hand-me-downs, clothing swaps and toys made from whatever.  Sure, I get it.  We spend a lot on children and all the needs and new needs that come a long every few minutes.  I read a cookbook today that told me in no uncertain terms that a kitchen need for a baby is bottles, even if one breastfeeds.  It is a NEED.  Never mind the fact that I'm breastfeeding my second child and have never expressed once to store all this milk in bottles.

Sure, I can get behind not spending money like it's an Olympic sport.  Although, it's about time there was an Olympic sport for the rest of us.  Something good that you could do while sitting.  Battle Royale Checkers or something.  Internet shopping certainly drives forward the need to consume.  "People who looked at this also bought --" Oh, did they? Do I need that to be a caring parent? A good parent? Am I giving my child the best start in every possible way? We want to do what's right by our children, even though what's right is often putting down the mouse and playing hide and seek or chasey or let's see how many things we can pull out of the pantry in 10 minutes - oh wait, that one's played while parents AREN'T looking.  I remember now.

So we shouldn't be spending, spending, spending on kids, because childhood is time of imagination and energy.

But should we be spending money on we adults?  If children can get away happily wearing hand-me-downs and playing with boxes, do we need the newest iWhatevers and closets full of this seasons' colours?  If we are harkening back to a simpler day, why not get clothes that are functional and good quality and spend our time delving into the classics (like Bubs and Lola Brine Some Pickles) and going for long walks and exploring the world around us instead of purchasing the world from a screen?

Why must we have convenience and consumerism? Are we so guided by Adam Smith's invisble hand that we blindly buy and store and hoard?  Why not make?  Why not wait? Whatever happened to delayed gratification?

That's my two cents.  Unless there's a high demand, and then it's my $5.