Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Free Spirit

That's John. And the object flying off in the background? That would be his bathing suit.


I hear the boys talking in amazement about a young boy who juggles sharp knives.

Kolbe quickly focuses on the most unbelievable part of the story: What about his mom? How did he get past her?

Small Successes

Who doesn't need a little encouragement? Head over to Faith and Family Live! and share your successes. Here are mine:

1. My cell phone took a swim in 10 ounces of lemonade and lived to tell the tale.

2. After being up every hour Saturday night, I slept in until 8:30 Monday morning. Thank you, John and Ainsey-girl! Thank you, Tylenol P.M.! If you had told me during college that one day I would be excited about sleeping in until 8:30, well, I don't know what my response would have been. I am a different person.

3. In prayer this week I had a clear and important insight into the state of my soul. Still chewing on what it means and what I need to do about it.

What about you?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

All I Want - Part I

From The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis:

My dear Wormword,

The contemptuous way in which you spoke of gluttony as a means of catching souls, in your last letter, shows only your ignorance. One of the great achievements of the last hundred years has been to deaden the human conscience on that subject, so that by now you will hardly find a sermon preached or a conscience troubled about it in the whole length and breadth of Europe.

This has largely been effected by concentrating all our efforts on gluttony of Delicacy, not gluttony of Excess.

Your patient’s mother, as I learn from the dossier and you might have learned from Glubose is a good example. She would be astonished – one day, I hope, will be – to learn that her whole life is enslaved to this kind of sensuality, which is quite concealed from her by the fact that the quantities involved are small.

But what do quantities matter, provided we can use a human belly and palate to produce querulousness, impatience, uncharitableness, and self-concern?

Glubose has this woman well in hand.

She is a positive terror to hostesses and servants. She is always turning from what has been offered her with a demure little sigh and a smile, “Oh, please, please...
all I want is a cup of tea, weak but not too weak, and the teeniest weeniest bit of really crisp toast.”

You see? Because what she wants is smaller and less costly that what has been set before her, she never recognizes as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others.

At the very moment of indulging her appetite she believes she is practicing temperance. In a crowded restaurant she gives a little scream at the plate which some overworked waitress has set before her and says: “Oh, that’s far, far too much! Take it away and bring me about a quarter of it!”

The real value of the quiet work Glubose has been doing for years on this woman can be gauged by the way in which her belly now dominates her whole life.

The woman is in what may be called the “All-I-want” state of mind. All she wants is a cup of tea properly made or an egg properly boiled. But she can never find any servant or any friend who can do these simple things “properly” – because her “properly” conceals an insatiable demand for the exact...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Easy to Please

John’s third birthday was a pure delight. Unjaded by consumerism, unaware that birthdays should have ‘themes,” John lives in the moment and feasts on simple pleasures.

John’s good buddy celebrated his birthday a week ago. Before his party I zipped up to the store and found two cool motorcycles to give him. John was duly impressed, but thankfully not to the point of having a colossal meltdown when gift giving time rolled around.

For weeks, I had been asking John, “What’s coming up?”

“Ma burtday!” John would yell.

After Henry’s birthday, John began saying “Ma burtday. Ma motacycle burtday!”

I knew I needed to purchase a motacycle or two.

On D-Day minus two, I remembered the bag ‘o toys I had picked up at a thrift store. I had thrown it in my cart without opening it. Turns out my $1.00 had bought four nifty, vintage motorcycles. I was so excited. With John bedded down for the night, I scoured the house for small boxes, wrapped the motorcycles individually, and put them on the dining room table.

I should have had the movie camera standing by when John woke up Friday morning. He threw his hands up in the air. He danced. He stacked these small gifts and gave them a hug.

We had decided a simple celebration with the family and Godparents was the order of the day. I wanted to do something special, but what to do when it's one hundred and a zillion degrees? I thought if the temperature were anywhere near reasonable (say, 95 degrees) we would head for the zoo. A glance at the forecast ruled that out quickly.

Too young for bowling, too hot for putt putt, we decided to go to … Chuck E. Cheese. People who know me well know that this is not my favorite establishment. I first darkened the door of Chuck’s place when Tim was about three. A friend was having a birthday party on a Saturday night. I think I still have moments of PTSD from that evening. Way back then, our Chuck E. Cheese was about one third of the size it is now. It was small, dark, and unbelievably loud.

When I could take it no more, I scooped up Tim and started to leave. Uninitiated as I was with their thorough security procedures, I attempted to walk out the door with my child. Thanks goodness this was before 9/11; I might still be in the clink. A friend rescued me from the clutches of security and explained the hidden i.d. to me. I am not exaggerating when I say that I almost shaking when I got to my car. Way, way too much.

Eventually I reached détente in my relationship with the big rat. Go early – keep it brief. The bottom line is that my kids do enjoy it. When the weather’s stifling, it’s a fun alternative.

So off we went to Chuck E. Cheese. Both sets of grandparents sent birthday money so I bought a gazillion tokens. We had a great time. John – whose favorite video is There Goes a Monster Truck – got to ride a monster truck over and over and over again. How fun is that?

Early on it was a bit crowded as a day camp apparently was on a field trip. The cynic in me noted that these children were wearing t-shirts that read “Camp Enhancement.” What exactly does Chuck E. Cheese enhance? Your waistline? Your credit card balance? Let me just stifle my bad self. Détente. Détente. Chuck and I are pals.

We finished the day with cake and ice cream and the company of John’s Godparents. John thoroughly enjoyed the cake which came to us via Duncan Hines. He was blissfully unaware that I had planned to sculpt a motorcycle shaped confection to blow his socks off. His socks were already blown by a day full of simple gifts and his favorite people.

May we all be so easy to please.

Happy birthday, child of my heart.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Precious John!

I would wander weary miles
Would welcome ridicule, my child
Just to see the sunrise of your smile
To see the light behind your eyes,
The happy thought that makes you fly
I would wander weary miles
If I could see the sunrise of your smile

Michael Card

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Small Successes


Visit Faith and Family Live! and be encouraged in all that you do. Here are a few highlights of my week:

1. We had a long, soaking rain last night. The thermometer at the bank across the street read 104 yesterday. Everything was looking parched. Not my success, but certainly a highlight of the week. Thanks be to God for rain!

2. Tim is back from camp minus just one item, albeit an important one. Words hardly capture the state of his socks. After three washes and whole lot of bleach, they are wearable once more. Next year's plan? Don't buy new socks before camp. Collect all the gray, holey, mismatched socks and send those guys.

3. We survived a three and a half hour doctor's visit with Ainsley. Thinking we would be in and out in a jiffy, I brought John along with me. How do you spell purgatory? Bottom line: she's just fine! Me? I still have a nervous twitch.

What have you been up to this week?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sorting the Laundry

Dave: Do I have a short-sleeved shirt for tomorrow?

Me: We're performing triage on laundry. Critical items only.

I Speak Toddler

John: May I pease be accused?

Translation: May I please be excused?

John: It's not bespectable!

Translation: That's unacceptable.

John: It's not funny, kids!

Translation: Stop laughing at me!

John: You da pest, Mama!

Translation: Sorry, translator is laughing too hard. She knows she shouldn't be, but she is.

Baby at the Beach

Celebrate Good Times

June was a flurry of celebrations - two graduations, a wedding, a birthday, Father's Day, and, most significantly, Dave's parents' 50th wedding anniversary. This is a long winded way of saying we've been consuming a whole lot of sheet cake.

I have been reflecting on celebrations - the whys and hows of marking life's milestones.

The 50th anniversary bash stands out for two reasons. First, the obvious: Lyle and Janet Dolin have been married half a century! In days gone by, people didn't often live long enough to reach this anniversary; today most people call it quits before reaching it.

For those struggling with a lack of marital bliss, Janet had some sage advice: You just need to make it through the first 35 years. After that, apparently it's a breeze.

I say all of this tongue-in-cheek, but the reality of Janet and Lyle's life hit me about 1:15 a.m. the night (or morning?) before the grand departure north. Our contribution to the festivities was a 30 minute slide show aptly named "Your legacy in snapshots." Tim and I watched one of the many, many "final cuts." As He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother came to us via You Tube, I watched a montage of sweet baby faces - first Dave, then Glenn, then Greg, and finally Jeff. My reaction was oh-so-predictable: I bawled.

Tim, naturally, was mystified.

Fifty years ago Lyle and Janet set out to build a life together. They welcomed and raised four sons who, in turn, brought them eight grandsons and one granddaughter. Theirs is a rich and full legacy.

The second significant achievement was that the party was actually a surprise! Janet and Lyle expected a family barbecue and instead were greeted by about 70 close friends and relatives. It was a great celebration: good food, conversations that flowed, guests who lingered long into the evening. The D.J. stayed until midnight!

A few days later Detroit was rocked - literally - by a mild earthquake. Now, Detroit doesn't do earthquakes. Tornadoes, blizzards, the occasional flood, yes - but not earthquakes.

Let's call it one last anniversary wish.

While compiling the slide show, I surveyed something in the neighborhood of a thousand photos. I have several reflections on these photos. First, Uncle Glenn has the cutest baby pictures I have ever seen. Second, cousin Kevin looks like the happiest baby woman ever birthed. Third, commitments matter. Picture after picture illustrated the lasting and life-changing impact of life's choices. Simply put, the decisions we make and the fortitude we exercise in sticking with them are like that earthquake - they literally rock the world. Indeed, they touch eternity.

Janet and Lyle have certainly rocked my world. These four little souls who occupy my days and bring such joy simply would not be if not for the enduring union that brought forth Dave.

(One of my joy-producing offspring just came to report that he had deposited the two-year-old in the baby's crib and now can't get him out. I hear a growing cacophony of shrieks in the background).

So a final congratulations and thanks, Mom and Dad. Your legacy is a bountiful and beautiful one. I am grateful to be part of it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Object of Their Affection

I'm nursing Ainsley and rocking her to sleep. She just nods off when her door opens abruptly. In walks Kolbe.

"I need to kiss Ainsley good night," he says.

He gives her a big kiss and pats her cheek and off he goes.

I resume nursing and rocking. She's once again nodding off. And once again the door opens. It's John.

"What does a coffee maker do," he wonders.

"It makes coffee," I explain, wondering where this is going.

"Dat's what it does!" he says, clearly satisfied. "I need to kiss Ainsey."

He kisses her toes and her head and off he goes.

I finish nursing and rocking. This time Ainsley stays asleep. Tim's at Scout camp so there won't be a third brother barging in to kiss her good night.

As the baby and only girl, Ainsley will undoubtedly get her fair share of attention, clothing, shoes, accessories, bedroom space, and who knows what else. If today is any indication, she'll also get an abundance of love. While all this may go to her head, I'm hoping it simply goes to her heart.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Potty Training Roulette

So John had a little accident in the exact, still-sticky spot where Ainsley dumped the Capri Sun.

This is going to be my lucky day.

Small Successes - In Honor of Tim

The women at Faith and Family share their successes each week. Click the link and encouraged!

Tim's away at camp this week. It's strange how strange it is to have him gone. On the cusp of thirteen - thirteen! - Tim is suddenly doing things that both bless and amaze me.

1. Tim helped put together a power point slide show for his grandparents' 50th anniversary. He spent hour after hour scanning old photos. Truly, we could not have done this without him.

2. Tim mowed the lawn Saturday! Huge, really huge!

3. Tim and his cousin Jacob learned to play Euchre. It's neat to enjoy an adult game with your kids.

Can't wait to see my Boy Scout tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Spilt Milk

Conventional wisdom tells us there is no use crying over spilt milk. But when you add orange juice, ice water, and a Capri Sun to the mix, it's enough to make a saint weep. And as of the latest accident, I can say - with witnesses to back me up - that I'm no saint.

I forgot the coffee! Ainsley dumped a cup - left within her reach by yours truly - all over a stack of books.

To be honest, the orange juice happened almost two weeks ago, but I'm still dealing with a little PTSD as it involved about 15 ounces of o.j. dumped by my blond-headed cherub all over my sister's sisal rug - not really washable and not cheap, either. Oy!

The rest of the accidents have occurred in rapid succession under my own roof. I know there will come a day when I will walk across my floor without getting stuck or hearing that oh-so-familiar crunch, crunch, crunch!

That day is clearly not today.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Things That Make You Laugh When You Are in the Middle of a Zillion Mile Drive

Tim, fiddling with the GPS: Weellll...I hope you don't want German food 'cuz the closest German restaurant is 73 miles in the opposite direction.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

I Just Plain Love This Kid

I also love my zinnias.

And my hard working hubby in the background.

Welcome Wagon

This time last year we returned home from an extended jaunt north to find our house swarming with bugs of various sorts. Think: potato left to rot for three weeks. That should capture the sight and smell.

I am now a year older and wiser and thus hired someone to enter our house three times a week, wipe down our counters, take a look see and a deep breath, and report any oddities to her mother pronto. We arrived home to no unwelcome sights or smells ... until we tackled a little yard work.

This loving mother was found comfortably nesting in the yard. Dave punctured one of the three egg sacs, and - I swear I am not exaggerating - hundreds of tiny Black Widow spiders went a-scamperin'.

In my yard. Where my babies play.

Angels of God, our guardians dear...

The Dolins Tour Motown