The Kids

The Kids

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Our Brilliant Children

Abby came home from school the other day talking about phone numbers. They are learning fire safety this week and wrote down 911 and their home phone number on a paper. While we were asking her about what she learned, I asked her if she knew her phone number (thinking she would run to get the paper and read it). She quickly rattled off our phone number by memory, leaving Nick and I with our jaws dropped!

Our 4-year old daughter, noticing our surprise and loving the attention, immediately said it again, showing off her skill. Caleb, sitting with us and noticing our focus on his sister, promptly lifted his leg and let out a fart.

And that was Caleb's contribution to our conversation.

(I did speak with Abby's teacher, asking for her trick to teaching the students their phone numbers. She said Abby must be a visual learner and had memorized it quickly just from pasting the numbers on a paper once.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Two Weeks

Johannesburg to Capetown
The plane had barely touched down
She was taking photos for the friends back home
This was always where she felt her heart belonged
And she was finally here
The sky was bright and clear

Two weeks....and we all can feel the calling
Two make the world a little smaller
And so a girl got on a plane for two weeks in Africa

Johannesburg to Houston
She came home on a mountain
But school was starting, things kept moving on
Before you knew it, seven years had gone
She found a picture of her standing, smiling arms around the starving kids
She swore to not forget
She swore to not forget

And if we follow our dear sun to where the stars are not familiar…
Faces turn to numbers
Numbers fall like manna from the sky
Why, oh why? Oh Father, why?

One village in Malawi now has water running pure and clean
One church alive in Kenya’s full of truth and love and medicine
We put the walls up, but Jesus keeps them standing
He doesn’t need us, but He lets us put our hands in
So we can see
His love is bigger than you and me

I was listening to this song from the Caedmon's Call's album, Overdressed, while driving the kids around today. The lyrics struck a chord with something I have been feeling, lately.

I have been feeling discontent with my life. Not unhappy or thinking I deserve more, but rather that I need to be doing more. I understand my calling in life right now is to be a wife and mother, but sometimes that truth reinforces why I am so unsettled. I have this fear of my children growing up so content in their American life that they forget we are living for a greater world.

When I am truly honest with myself, I have that desire to keep it simple-raise my children in a nice home, in a good school district so that they can be involved in activities and get into a good college. I want them to be well-liked, yet kind to others. I want our home to be welcoming and roomy. None of these things are bad, yet I feel I am ignoring this deep calling for something more.

Are Nick and I being called to another country? I do not have the answer to that, but if I even think "yes, " I immediately come up with excuses for why that could not happen. Money, wanting to be near family, the ages of our kids. Are we being called to another part of the states? Again, the same answers come to mind. Even the idea of being called back into ministry (as in a job-we as Christians are always "in ministry") makes me hesitant at times. Working the job of ministry often determines where to attend church and, let's be honest, how many people in ministry do you know that stay in the same place for twenty years? I want my children having the same luxury I did of staying in the same school district all through school-ministry does not guarantee this.

Even as I am writing all of this, I am seeing my selfishness shine through.

Maybe all these thoughts are coming from my recent trip down memory lane. I was scanning old pictures from college and posting them on my facebook page (yes, I am a nerd). I kept seeing myself on mission trips and pretty much fulfilling the second verse of the song above. Anyone who has been on a mission trip knows the feeling-mountain top experience where you think you will never be the same, but eventually falling right back into your routine. I do not believe it is the mountain top experience I am seeking, but the passion that I used to have for other people.

Regardless of where God places our family, I need to find that passion again. Whether across the world or staying in our neighborhood, I need to be about my Father's business and always praying my children will learn to do the same.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Like Mother Like Daughter

Abby is like me in many ways. Some characteristics I would rather not mention because they are not worth bragging about (like being stubborn, competitive, emotional-I could go on). One thing we have noticed recently, though, I am happy about. Her love of God's creation.

She enjoys being outside and notices the littlest things. On our walks on the bike trail, I hear this: "Mommy, look! A squirrel! Mommy, look! A dog! Mommy, look! The water!" Sometimes she looks up at the clouds and describes the shapes she sees. Lately, though, her passion has been for the starry nights.

During one of her many trips out of her room when she is supposed to be sleeping, she will come to the top of the stairs and ask us if we looked outside at the stars. Then she describes how beautiful they are. A few minutes later she will return, checking to see if we looked at how beautiful they are.

Perhaps it is just another stalling method, but it is hard to get mad at a little girl in her pajamas asking us if we took the time to look at God's creation.

I used to be like that. I took the time to just sit and look at the stars. I stopped what I was doing to watch the sunset. I stretched out on a blanket and figured out the shapes in the clouds. Now, I glance at the stars when walking from the car to the house. I see glimpses of a sunset over the houses in our neighborhood, while cleaning up from dinner. And the only time I look for shapes in the clouds is when my four-year old is telling me to.

When did I become too old to appreciate the beautiful creation God has put right in front of me? And why do we adults insist on being so busy that we are missing it?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Too Early

This is an example of what I hear from Abby when she wakes up an hour too early in the morning...

Abby-"Mommy, my tiger sometimes smells a mouse in his nose in my room, but don't worry-I don't get mouses in my nose and my tiger is just pretending."

Me: "What?"

Abby-"Oh Mommy-you're silly."

(Thank you Uncle John and Aunt Mary for the stuffed tiger she is referring to-evidently he sleeps her in bed and protects her from "the mouses.")

Monday, October 20, 2008

You Know You're A Mom To Toddlers When...

-Your day begins with any of the following phrases...
"Mommy, it's good morning time!" (sometimes an hour before normal)
"Mommy, I want to get out-now!"
"Mommy, I peed in my bed!"

-Breakfast involves getting everyone their food, in the particular way they desire it made, taking a few seconds to swallow something yourself, sometimes accidently pouring your orange juice over your cereal instead of milk (true story), cleaning everyone up and quickly cleaning up the table before the youngest one dumps the leftover food on the floor.

-You find it a great day when one child is at school so that you can run errands with only one

-What used to be cuddle time with a baby now becomes a cross between wrestling and fighting
over who can tackle you the best.

-No matter your degree, you are suddenly a doctor, teacher, pastor, house cleaner, personal
shopper, and chef.

-Noggin and PBS Kids are your favorite channels.

-You laugh when you hear non-parents say they will never let their children watch tv or eat
fast food.

-You use the same laughter when reading parenting books that lecture not to use snacks as a
distraction while shopping.

-Lunch time consists of preparing all of the favorite things they like to eat so that when you sit
down and attempt to eat your meal, you can hear the never-ending question of, "Can I have

-You know that naptime is a God-given gift and that you are among the truly blessed if more
than one child naps at the same time.

-Your DVR has more episodes of Dora, Diego and Thomas recorded than it does of actual adult

-You no longer judge other parents when their children are out of control in public.

-You fondly remember the days of doing laundry and putting it away the same day.

-Your heart melts when your child runs from school, arms stretched out, yelling, "Mommy!
Mommy! Mommy!"

-Instead of negotiating important deals or making life-threatening decisions, you are constantly
playing referee to the vital battles over toys.

-You work hard on preparing dinner that will not only taste good, but sustain your family with
the nutrients they need to grow healthly and strong, only to hear "Can we have chicken
fingers or pizza?" every night.

-Your husband wonders why you no longer drop everything to greet him at the door when he
arrives home from work, which is difficult to do while making dinner, changing a poopy
diaper, and answering the phone all at the same time.

-You actually enjoy picking up the toys at the end of the day while your husband gives the kids
their bath because it counts as alone time.

-You can recall the days of college where you were just starting your night at 11 pm, while you
put your pajamas on before the kids are asleep.

-You always check on your kids before going to bed.

-You try to stay up late, watching mindless tv, just so you can feel like your own person, but
eventually give in and go to sleep, because this will all start again tomorrow.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Question of the Day

While in the car the other day, Abby randomly asked me, "Mommy, is God a boy?"

(She had no explanation for where that question came from. Just wanted to ask me "because.")

Without becoming too theologically in depth for my four-year old, I told her God is God. He is not really a man or woman like us, but if we had to pick one, He is a he. We call Him Father so I guess that makes Him a man. I also tried to explain how Jesus is God, but also man and I think I lost her. I was just not prepared to discuss the trinity at that point-thought I had a few more years until these kind of talks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Loving our Friends

Abby came home from school today, not as excited as she usually is. Normally, she runs out of the building, bursting to tell me about her day. Today, she was quiet and thoughtful. She finally told me what happened...

(Instead of using the classmates names, I will stick with friend #1 and friend #2.)

Apparently friend #1 whispered to her, "You're not friends with friend #2, right?" Abby said, "Yes I am." Friend #1 responded, "You are friends with me, but you can't be friends with her." Abby (thankfully) did not agree. She told me "I should love all of my friends, right?"

Yes, Abby, yes.

She also told me that friend #1 hates friend #2. It saddened my heart that she knows the word "hate." I explained that it is not a nice word to use. Abby replied, "It's not nice that friend #1 hates friend #2. We should all be friends."

This is preschool. Not even grade school, yet, where I expected these kind of stories. What can possibly happen in preschool to cause children to speak this way about each other? And I know as a mother of a girl, it will only get worse. We women start young and just get worse about how we treat each other. Gossip, slander and judging increases with age.

I am thankful that Abby chose not to join her friend in the hatred and I pray it continues to stay that way. I know her little sinful heart will eventually hurt a friend, but I hope she has the compassion to realize it and fix the relationship.

In the meantime, watching four-year olds speak this way about each other is being used as a huge conviction on my own behavior. Why is it so difficult to treat others the way we want to be treated?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Feeling Safe

I decided to turn Caleb's crib into a bed today. He has been close to climbing out of it so I thought it would be best to avoid an injury and remove the side. At first he was very excited about it. He kept thanking me and talking about his "big boy bed." He even practiced a few times, pulling up his covers and saying, "Night, night." I figured he would be okay. After all, he climbs into Abby's bed all of the time and pretends to sleep in it. And, she was in a bed by this age, since he had just been born and needed the crib.

So, I prepared myself for today's naptime, fulling expecting the battle of the wills. With Abby, it was a couple day battle between her wanting to get out of bed and play and me needing her to sleep for my own sanity. At least this time I was mentally prepared to not get rest. However, after a couple of arguments over him staying in his bed, an unexpected thing happened.

I heard him crying at the door and when I walked in, he kept crying, "No more, no more." So, I put the side back on the crib and he immediately curled up and fell asleep in minutes.

Now, he was in no danger of falling out of his bed. If he did roll out, he would have landed on his soft, Elmo couch right next to his bed and (knowing how my son sleeps) probably would not have woken up. But, for some reason, the fear overtook him and he begged for his safety net to be attached.

I believe Caleb's behavior is a great example of human nature. We fight and fight for independence, but when we actually receive it, we can be terrified. Afraid of falling, afraid of failure, afraid our safety net will never return.

Think of the first time of leaving home to start one's life without parental control. And the first time one signs their life away to buy a house. The first time one holds their newborn baby in their arms and realizes they are responsible for this little one's entire life.

Think of Adam and Eve, searching for independence, and feeling they lost everything in one moment.

What a gracious God we know who always remains the same, no matter our decisions of indepence. We can fall and fail, but His love is always constant. Just as little Caleb will realize someday that his "big boy bed" will keep him safe, I pray someday he trusts in the true safety of his savior.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sing Praises to the Lord

I love music. One of the first things I do when getting in the car is turn on the radio and find a good song to start with. Granted, with children I have to limit what I listen to. I may think a good rock song is perfect for my mood, but the lyrics or depressing melody may not be the best thing for Abby and Caleb to hear. But, Nick and I both play a wide variety of music around them and I think they usually enjoy it. I already see them having rhythm and somewhat of a decent tone.

With this love of music that my children are developing comes this desire they have to listen to "My favorite songs." Now, it has been so long since we have had this cd that I forget the actual title, but when Abby (and now Caleb) ask to listen to "my favorite songs," I know to insert the blue, hymns for kids cd into the player and give up.

Usually when I hear the request for this cd, I tend to roll my eyes (to myself, of course) and have selfish thoughts about giving up what I'm listening to at that moment. Who wouldn't rather listen to Coldplay, U2 or Caedmon's Call? However, from the second that music starts, their reaction makes it all worth it.

The first song is "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus." Abby sings every word so sweetly. And now Caleb sings it as well. Well, his version is "I cided...follow Jesus." A few more songs in and I get to hear "This Little Light of Mine," to which they both faithfully hold their fingers up to show their light. Caleb's favorite verse of that song is the one about hiding it under a bushel because he gets to yell "No!" very loudly. Abby's request is always to sing "Amazing Grace." My mind boggles over the fact that she knows every word to every verse of this song. And one must not forget "I'm in the Lord's Army."

I know that my children do not really understand the words they are singing-at least not Caleb. But, on the other hand, we are to have faith like a child so perhaps they understand more than we give them credit for. All I know is that the sweetest sound in the world to me is hearing their little voices sing praises to God.

(A special thank you to their Grammy for the cd.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

For My Four Year Old

Today Abby turned four years old. In some ways I amazed that she is already so old. In other ways, I feel like she has been this age forever.

Similar to what I wrote about Caleb yesterday, I notice so many attributes in her personality that are similar to us. She can be really stubborn, strong-willed, and opinionated-all of which could describe either Nick or myself, depending on the day. She loves music and books-again, both of our favorites. And she can be really sensitive, getting her feelings hurt easily, which clearly comes from both of us.

I see Nick in her with her passion. Like her daddy, she never invests in things part way-she has many ideas and emotions that just pour out of her. Her mood can change at the drop of a hat. I find myself thinking of how to word things around her so as not to upset the delicate balance in our house (as I do on Sunday game days with Nick). She has a compassion for people and often asks about children who do not have food or toys like she has, which completely comes from Nick. She also is full of creativity and artistic talent.

Abby always likes to be in the know. She strongly dislikes not knowing what is going on and I completely relate. She usually does not miss a thing and never, ever forgets anything. She loves to be outside and can be very dramatic. She values her friendships highly and tries to be a good friend.

I see her react to things or say phrases that I know come right from us and it scares me a little bit. The older she gets, the more I realize the influence we have over her and who she will become. How did we ever earn this great responsibility? The beginning of parenthood is so much about survival-feeding, bathing, and giving the child a routine. And then, out of nowhere, these little ones become people who are going to make a difference in their world. I pray every day that God is using us as good examples for our children of how to show His love.

Happy Birthday to the princess of the house-my love for you grows more and more each day.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

For My Two Year Old

Today Caleb turned two years old, which is just amazing to me. He suddenly went from a baby to a walking toddler with strong opinions (shocking, I know, given his parents' personalities). Because he has an older sibling, I often think of him as a baby. But, here he is, telling me stories, sharing jokes, and always trying to prove his point.

It is fascinating to me to watch him and see both of our characteristics represented in him. I am told he looks just like Nick (which I suppose is true-to me he is just Caleb). He certainly likes to follow certain patterns of his daddy, like sleeping in and enjoying his meals. He also has intense mood swings, sometimes that seem irrational to me, but really do stem from something deep inside him. I also see Nick in him when he shows compassion. He often comes up to me and asks, "What's wrong, Ba Ba?" if I show the slightest sad face.

I believe he follows my trait for loving company, but then loving alone time as well. In the midst of his birthday party yesterday, I found him upstairs, playing alone. This is not to say he was not enjoying his party, but just needed a few minutes of quiet. I was secretly wishing I could join him for awhile! He also resembles me that when he puts his mind to something, he sticks with it. I usually see this when he is playing with cars-it is quite an effort to tear him away to move on to something else. Neither one of us likes to rush all day-we prefer a day at home or the park to constantly running around.

My heart hurts to think of him being all grown up and leaving-there is something to that mother/son relationship. But, along with that dread, it also excites me to think what kind of man he will grow up to be. I pray for him daily that he follows the path God has for him and that he becomes a man after God's own heart.

Happy Birthday Caleb! I love you more than you will ever know.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Greater Generation

I have learned that I have a lot to live up to in my daughter's eyes. Within the past couple of days, this is what I have heard from her in comparison to her grandmas.

Abby: "Mommy, I really want this princess cake for my birthday! Can you make it?"
Me: "Well, I have never made one like this before, but I can try."
Abby: "That's okay-Grammy will know how to make it."

Abby: "Mommy, can you throw a grape up in the air and catch it in your mouth?"
Me: (After trying and failing) "No."
Abby: "Well, my Grandma can do it!"

Okay, so I am just not as good as my mom and mother-in-law. I guess I will just have to accept this and do my best. Maybe someday Abby's children will hold me on such a pedestal.