Monday, June 29, 2009
both behind and before...
But it's only because they are my favorite things.
And I don't want to forget what I was drinking or thinking when we listened to our favorite songs.
I'm pretty sure he didn't think about the fact that I would talk to strangers and embarrass him everywhere we go. Everywhere. We go.
For example, it is usually not enough for me to take a picture of the sign as we drive by.
I made him pull over, get out, and take a picture of my Vanna White pose. As traffic drove by and I didn't care one bit. (Many of you reading this have also been thrust into embarrassment by my cockamamie ideas. And you know you loved it.)
And so we ended up with multiple shots of the very same pose, and all the while cars were driving by and I was making a spectacle of myself and my sweet husband. I'm pretty sure he didn't account for all this with the wedding ring.
But it's a package deal. It comes with me. I cannot be extracted from my extroverted tendencies, my spontaneity, and my ridiculousness.
I'm the sprinkles on his sundae; he's the string to my kite.
Good thing he likes me. At least enough to keep playing my games.
(Thanks for a good three days, you handsome man. I like running away with you.)
"It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them."
~ Agatha Christie
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Okay, not really. But I felt big enough to be long overdue, surely bigger than God intended. I was 'great' with child, and we attended a marriage weekend at a hotel in town. The weekend was flawless and powerful in many ways... except for the elevator in the hotel. It was flawed and sadly powerless in many ways.
It kept getting stuck - multiple times a day. "So, take the stairs," you might suggest. But when one is that round with gestation, a third floor hotel room is better accessed by an elevator. Even a faulty one. I was willing to take my chances and hope for a successful elevation.
Normally, I don't have an issue with small spaces, and I could be patient with the rescue. Except for one time. The second 'stuck situation' of the weekend, when everything within an eight-foot radius came to a screeching vertical halt. We were stuck. Again.
The elevator was crammed full - about eight others who were willing to take their hopeful chances. We were standing shoulder to shoulder, waiting. Nothing was moving. For a very long time.
A fellow captive called the front desk from his cell phone, but they nonchalantly said they knew we were stuck, they would help us as soon as possible, and could we please hold. That seemed to be all we could do: hold.
More time passed. The woman in the corner, near the buttons to choose the floor destination (a deceptive display, since we had very few choices), started to have a panic attack. She crouched down to the floor, and her husband sat beside her, fanning her and saying encouraging things.
Our friend with a cell phone called the front desk once more. It turns out, Mr. and Mrs. Front Desk had other things to deal with, and they did not wish to hear from us whiners. Or at least their tone communicated this message.
And that's when it happened: I had a contraction. We were stuck in an elevator, and Tyler thought he would test the boundaries a bit. And then I had another one.
I whispered to Robb, who was standing very close to me, "I'm having contractions."
In case you haven't tried, you can't keep a secret in a jammed elevator full of people. I might as well have broken my own water right there in front of them all. Many people love a story of an unexpected delivery, but very few people want to witness one. I knew I wasn't in labor, but still, I couldn't ignore this tight squeezing. At regular intervals.
The man whipped out his cell phone again, but he didn't bother with the front desk. He went straight to the big wigs: 9-1-1. He explained where we were in the city, where we were in the hotel (somewhere between the fourth and fifth floor), and the demographics in the elevator: eight adults, one woman hyperventilating with a panic attack, and a second woman timing regular contractions.
They were on their way. Immediately.
When we were finally set free, there was indeed a community of rescue workers ready to help us all. The paramedics tended to the woman who could not catch her breath, and they settled me into a corner, all but asking to check my dilation. I really, honestly and truly, knew I was okay. Tyler had stopped his initial descent, and everything within me had settled.
The paramedics weren't so sure. I had to sign my name a dozen times to prove that I had declined their services, I didn't need to be rushed to the hospital, and I would deliver my own child without suing them if in fact I was wrong. Sign, sign, sign.
When it was all said and done, we went back to the hotel's ballroom for another session on communication in our marriage. But here's the interesting thing: from start to finish, contractions notwithstanding, not a single person from the hotel said a word to us.
Nothing. "Ma'am, are you all right? Ma'am, can we get you a glass of water? Ma'am, do you need an epidural?" Nothing.
So, when we got home, Robb called the corporate office. He filed a formal complaint, saying that his "very pregnant wife got stuck in the elevator. Twice."
Could I clarify? The elevator got stuck. I did not get stuck in it. It sounded very much like I got wedged in there, with my broad circumference. "My wife got stuck in the elevator. Twice."
I forgave him for this small misspeak. Because here's the happy ending: he scored us two nights in a hotel, as compensation for our troubles.
All of that to say, two years later, we're redeeming our certificates. We're going away this weekend. Just us. No kids. Two nights away: Compliments of a faulty elevator and some carefully timed contractions.
See you Monday.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Side note: That place is amazing. It is safe, creative, brilliantly fun, and abundantly worth the cost of admission. Whoever thought to combine a coffee shop (with free WiFi) and the best playland ever? An absolute genius. That's who. (Those same entrepreneurs could make a fortune if they combine Best Buy and Payless Shoes. I'm just sayin'. It's a fortune in the making, to let him peruse electronics while she shops for shoes.) I may need to carve my initials into a corner table at Monkey Business, so they'll know where to save my seat. I'm in. Me, and my monkeys.
My friend N and I chose our cafe table and declared home base before launching our collective four children into the jungle of fun.
I said, "Boys, this is right where Mommy will be. Do you see? Look at me. Tyler, look at me. Hey. Your eyes, here, please. Thank you. This is where Mommy will be. If you need me, I will be right here, at this table."
And he was off and running, following his brother who had taken off seconds before.
N, in her wisdom, said, "The truth is, if you hear him cry, you'll be right by his side. That's the thing, Tricia. It doesn't matter where you are; it matters where he falls. That's where you'll be."
So, so true. That's where I'll be. Every single time.
I don't want to overspiritualize (ever), but I'm pretty sure there are some great spiritual parallels tucked in there.
Perhaps I have invented my own home base for God, where I think I can leave him while I roam free, only to safely find him when I need him.
Or perhaps I act too quickly, without waiting for his full instructions. Maybe I think I can run from him, only to realize he's the first on the scene when I'm in over my head.
Or perhaps I could use a little less monkey business in my days.
Or perhaps a little more. Perhaps.
Maybe there are no parallels; maybe it was just some maternal wisdom, mom to mom. And there's a lot to be said for that.
Anyway, my kids know where to find me. And find me, they did. Again and again. Because there's something very, very safe about home base, even if you're just passing through.
I'm never far away.
Monday, June 22, 2009
I'm pretty sure half of those belong to my mom. She has been faithful to read everything I've ever set before her. :)
But if a few of them belong to you, thanks. If you keep reading, I'll keep writing.
We make a good team.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
from the diapers that do their job to the ones who let us all down,
from the most restful naps to the sleepless nights,
from the playful afternoons to the crying fests,
from healthy snacks to "where did he find that?"
from educational activities to too much TV,
from days on the playground to strolls through the mall,
from picnics and pack lunches to dinners out - just you and me,
from pregnancy tests to maternity clothes,
from the hiccups inside to the giggles outside,
from carseats to strollers,
from giggles to tantrums,
from 'the books say this' but 'my instinct says that',
from moments when we're sure to the moments when we're faking it,
from sticky hands to stinky feet,
from 'please pick up your toys' to 'stop pushing your brother,'
from 'I think he's calling you' to 'no way, it's your turn',
from bubbles in the bath to splashes in the pool,
from 'Tyler, hold on,' to 'Tucker, hands off,'
from first words to first steps,
from the first cry to the first smile,
from the timeout corner to arms of grace,
from one date night to the next,
from 'remember when' to 'imagine if',
from 'they say we'll miss this,' to 'I'd love to miss it right now,'
from the days when they love us to the days when they don't,
from the moments we'll never forget to the ones that haven't found us yet,
There is nobody I would rather do this with.
Happy Father's Day, Robb.
You're the best.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
"Mommy. I see her bottom."
"I know, Tuck." I pushed Tyler's stroller, in hopes that my nonchalance would encourage him to move on as well.
He had quite an angle to view Her anatomy, from his vantage point. He stayed close to me, but he kept one eye on Her the entire time we were in the store.
And I found him peeking underneath the skirts of other manequins (thankfully not real, live women) to see if they were each built the same.
We cut that visit short. They didn't have the skirt I wanted, and I didn't need to foster any more anatomy lessons. It made me most thankful that he was four. Not twelve.
Seriously, Ann Taylor. Keep the women dressed. In the name of all things decent for preschool boys. And boys in general.
Except he keeps saying, "Shut Out." To me, or his friends, or my friends. He is indiscriminate in his rudeness. It's his tone that's very clear.
Turns out, the punishment is the same, even if the verbage is wrong.
(Sadly, he keeps trying anyway.)
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
On a lunch date today, Tucker said to my friend, "Jen, you embarrassing."
Jen shifted her eyes to me, taken slightly aback. "Did your son just say I'm embarrassing? Does he know that word??"
"Um, yes. He does. It's in a book we read."
And it is. We read (often) the book, There is a Monster at the End of This Book, starring cute, loveable Grover. Grover is terrified to turn the pages that will take him to the end of the book, because of the waiting monster. He delays in every way, and we finally get to the end, only to learn the that monster is, in fact, Grover himself.
And then he holds his head in his hands, and he says, "Oh, I am so embarrassed."
And from that, Tucker has learned the word embarrassing.
Thankfully, Jen is first of all a mom of two boys, and she knows as well as I do that we cannot be defined or entirely responsible for the behaviors of our children. But she is also entirely witty, so she went to town with that comment of his.
"I'm pretty sure that's what he said. He said I'm embarrassing... and you're not even disagreeing with him. You obviously think so too."
Okay, I don't, but I did think it was really funny. And I didn't correct him because I was too busy laughing. And it's not wise to correct a three-year-old when you cannot keep a straight face.
So, I confess: I really do love when it's my child who uses his big words in the wrong ways. Turns out, I really do.
(As long as the audience can handle it.)
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Today sucked. Forgive me if you do not like that term. But it did. No way around it.
My boys were disobedient and whiny. I was out of patience and fortitude. We were plain sick of each other. This house (and the surrounding parks) were not big enough for the three of us. There was yelling, whining, snapping, and crying, among all parties. I did not behave as I would have hoped. But neither did they.
I called in reinforcements. Friends prayed for me. I bought - and pleasurably drank - a mocha. And I called on all the Scripture I could recall to please, please, get me through the morning. Carry me to naptime.
And that's when it suddenly occurred to me: Jesus did not parent toddlers. Yes, he withstood and refused temptations of many kinds, of his eyes, his stomach, his flesh. But of all the paths he walked that are ours as well, he was not the stay-at-home parent of preschoolers.
When he escaped the throngs and pursued solitude with his Father, he did not have to arrange for childcare.
When he fasted, he did not have to prepare meals for picky eaters.
"Let the little children come to me," he said. But he could send them home when he was finished teaching them. And when they fell into tantrums in his presence, I'm pretty sure their mothers swooped in to avoid a public scene.
"Be holy as I am holy." In his holiness, he did not do the day-in-day-out constantness of arguing, negotiating, potty training, timeouts, scraped kness, lessons in sharing, and weary exhaustion with their little sinful natures.
But he did give these children to me.
And he ordained today.
And his grace is sufficient.
(And they are sleeping now. Thank you, Lord.)
Friday, June 12, 2009
"So, do you have any children?"
"We do. We have two little boys. They're two and three."
"Oh. Oh, my. We have two boys, but they're 23 and 24." The woman patted my hand. "Honey, I'm not going to tell you what's ahead of you. You would only worry. You just have to do it yourself. It's so much fun, and you'll love so much of it. But I can't tell you about it. You just have to do it."
Now that is some very interesting advice, right there. It's true, I'm sure.
If someone had told me I would lose two babies before I could keep two babies, and I would journey through speech delay, surgeries, broken bones, hospital visits, and hurt feelings for everyone involved, I would have indeed become consumed with worry.
Because those facts don't allow room for the other truths they carry in their hands. Yes, there was speech delay, but now he talks. (In fact, today he asked me to stop talking.) Yes, there were surgeries, but there were recoveries. And I got to be the mom on the scene. Yes, there were broken bones and multiple casts for an entire summer, but there were laughs and stories to go with each new one. Yes, there were hospital visits, but there was bonding and confidence that I had never known before. Yes, there were (and are) hurt feelings almost every single day. But we are learning to love each other more. We are learning grace. We are choosing us. All of us.
Worry doesn't allow room for the good stuff.
It's better to do that which is right in front of me. Right now. That's all. (I'm still learning this.) Otherwise? I will just worry. It's better not to know.
Because you never really can.
"When we have children, we know they will need us, and maybe love us, but we
don't have a clue how hard it is going to be. We also can't understand when we're pregnant, or when our relatives are expecting, how profound and dicey it is to have a shared history with a child, shared blood, shared genes, even humor. It means we were actually here, on earth, for a time, like Egyptians with their pyramids, but with kids, it's an experiment: you wait and see what will come of it, and with people, that almost always means a mess.... I see Sam and me get mad at each other, over and over, but then we apologize, become friends again; I see how each time this is redemption. How amazing it is to share that."
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Be still my heart.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
We were settling in for a quick lunch after church with some friends. We were two families merged into one, managing multiple children, diaper bags, high chairs, bibs, and preferences. As Robb was handling Tuck, who was dangerously near an all-out-tantrum, I heard a man say, "Well, those are some good looking kids you have there. Do you pay extra for such cute ones?"
I look up, and there is a very kind, friendly, and well-dressed man in his fifties, shaking hands with my husband. My bewildered husband, I might add, who is not at all sure how to answer that question. Instead, he smiled and said, "Hi, I'm Robb."
"And I'm Steve. Would you mind if I ask your beautiful wife or girlfriend a question?"
And suddenly I was involved, since I was the 'beautiful wife or girlfriend.' I looked more closely at Steve, just sure I must know this person who is so boldly entering my family's space. Nothing. No recall of this face at all. Robb granted permission, and Steve turned his conversation to me.
"Hello, ma'am. You are quite lovely."
"Well, thank you." Who is this guy?? Not that I am opposed to such affirmation...
"I was just wondering... where might my daughter get a pair of those shoes you are wearing? Red, strappy sandals. Just her style. I would love to know."
My shoes? He wants to know about my shoes?
"Well, a friend gave them to me, actually."
"A friend gave them to you? For free? Well, she sure must love you!"
"Yes, I think she does."
"So, you don't know where she got them?"
"Well, no, but I do believe I could find out."
(Meanwhile, Robb is now nearly wrestling with Tucker, who has tumbled over the precipice into all-out-meltdown. Tyler is nearly invisible in his compliance. Thank you, Lord.)
Steve, my new friend, now glances at the table to see the rest of our crew, the family who is an extension of ours.
"Are these all your children?"
"No, just these two." I pointed.
"Well, this is the first time we've come here on a Sunday, and I'll tell you what, we'll come again just for the entertainment. All these young families with small children - it is something to watch, I'll tell ya. And what do you do?"
"What do I do? Oh, I'm a mom and a teacher."
"Now, you see, I just knew it. I knew you were a teacher..."
He went on to tell me about his wife, mother, sister, and daughter, all of whom are teachers and have well-equipped him to spot one a mile away. Which leads me to wonder how long he has been spying on me. And my shoes.
"Now, seriously. About those shoes. I'd love to know. May I call you?"
Call? That's a little on the personal side, Mr. Strappy Sandals. "Do you do email?"
"Oh, sure! Let's email. I'd just love to know where she can find those."
And so we exchanged email, Steve and me. He joined his crew of teachers in the family who were heading out the door, and I commenced with my own family of hungry meltdowns in the making. And we all raised our eyebrows at one another, since that is really a conversation I have never quite had. Ever.
No word from him yet, and although I found out that the sassy shoes (which are often a conversation piece, truly) are from Ross, I haven't yet drafted my email to tell him so.
You just never know, people. You never do.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Twins?? Those two?
"Um, no. They're 19 months apart."
"I thought they were, but when I asked how old they are, they both said three."
I smiled. "Well, Tyler is wrong."
(Seriously? Perhaps this last belated birthday party really did deceive him into thinking he's three. Clearly, he's telling the world.)
Friday, June 5, 2009
We celebrated Tyler's birthday tonight, one more time. Busy calendars kept us from partying with Robb's side of the family, and since I am personally all about s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out the birthday celebration, today was one more opportunity to blow out some candles and open some presents.
Since it has indeed been a while since he turned two officially, Tucker said, "It's Tyler's birthday again? Oh, Tyler, happy birthday! You're three now!" Not quite. He's just two. Again.
I once professed my love for all things with decorative frosting, and while I still covet the abilities of my faves on the Food Network, my need to personally decorate my children's birthday cakes is a hobby of my past. In the end, it takes like nine hours for someone of my novice status, and that's just too long for anything at all in this season of my life. I'd rather spring the twenty bucks and let someone else have the cramped hands and the frosting stains at the end of the day.
Plus, there's just nothing wrong with some old school DQ.
(Tyler carefully chose this cake from the freezer showcase. With my power of persuasive influence, I led him carefully away from the cake with a giant ladybug - too girly - or a combination of hearts and skulls - too weird.)
When the moment of grandeur arrived, I assumed my performance as combined Mommy and Hostess Extraordinaire. My sister-in-law assumed her role as photographer, and for that I will be forever thankful for the following documented play-by-play.
Drum roll, please.... (feel free to sing along..)
Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you!
And then Tucker wanted to pluck a candle and suck off the frosting.
...and I dropped the cake.
(May I just say, in this very moment, I was most thankful I had not indeed invested the nine hours to make this cake. I would have done something terribly memorable, I'm sure.)
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
As I scrambled with the many dishes on the stove and in the microwave, Tyler cried because he wanted to sit in his chair, 25 minutes before it was time to eat.
Tucker needed, needed, needed to be in the kitchen with me, standing at my feet, asking to help. Please. Help. Please.
Tyler wanted to be held.
Then they wanted to play a game. Now. Cootie, please. Now.
As we got nearer to dinner time, Tyler's bib could not be found. He could not think of eating without it, so we had to search high and low. When we found it, he didn't want to wear it.
Meanwhile, Tucker endlessly blew his last-day-of-school windmill, which sent spit flying all over everything and everyone. So, that's fun, just before dinner.
When it was finally time to eat, Tyler wanted to get out of his chair. After all, he had been in it for 25 minutes. No dice, kiddo.
Tucker got in trouble for shouting, "Pee-Pee! Pee-Pee!" (He didn't need to go. He just thinks he is hysterically funny.) We try to discourage this conversation at the dinner table, so he spent a few minutes in time-out.
"Tuck, when you're ready to use polite words, you can come back."
"Are you ready to use polite words?"
"Then you can keep sitting there."
In the meantime, Tyler had no interest in dinner, his meal, his chair, or his life as he knows it. He wanted Mommy. In his whiniest, most tearful voice, he cried for me. Since I was enjoying my enchiladas (as much as one can in such an environment), Robb tried to encourage him to eat instead.
"Tyler, can you eat your chicken? This is Daddy's favorite chicken. Very favorite. Taste it."
"No. Mommy. Mommy, mommy, mommy." Cry, cry, cry.
Tucker announced from the living room: "I'm ready now."
"Okay, come join us."
As he joined us, he announced that he had to go potty now. Robb and I exchanged glances over the table: to allow, or not to allow? We're still freshly out of the potty training graduation ceremony, so we are reluctant to keep the boy from going when he says he has to go. Go. Now. Quickly. Then eat. Now. Go.
Tucker yelled from the bathroom, "Hey! I tooted!"
Tucker yelled from the bathroom, "Soap! Soap! SSOOOAAAAP!" It was hard to know if he was yelling at us or at the soap. Especially since he didn't need a single bit of assistance when I arrived at his side to help him reach the soap. He was fine, thanks.
Once Tucker came back to the table, he reminded us of the promise to play a game after dinner. "Mommy, we play Candyland. You be green."
Tyler: "No, I be green."
Tucker: "No! No, you be blue. I be green. Mommy be red."
Tyler: "No, I be red."
Tucker, clenching his fists and gritting his teeth: "No. No, no, no."
I whispered, "Tuck, he doesn't really know his colors yet. He's just repeating everything you say."
Tuck, with greater rationale, "Oh. Okay. Tyler, you be green."
Tyler: "No, you be green."
Growling commenced. Tyler cried.
(Are you kidding me? Is it time for bed yet?)
And then the negotiations started.
"Boys who eat their dinner can have a cookie."
"I want a cookie!"
"Did you eat your dinner?"
"Then no cookie."
"But I want a cookie!"
"Eat your grapes or your chicken."
"I want a cookie."
"I want Mommy!"
(I want a stiff drink.)
In an adult moment above it all, I whispered (nearly in pig-latin), "You know, I made chocolate raspberry trifle for dessert. I'm not sure they've earned it. I'm pretty sure we have. After their baths and bedtime, let's eat it. Just us."
Tucker piped up: "Hey! What's the big idea?"
And who is this smarty pants at my table, I'd like to know? And who talks this way? I happen to know he was simply reciting lyrics from a song Uncle Rob gave him (incidentally titled, "Sucking Too Hard On Your Lollipop", but that's for another blog post), but his timing was impeccable.
In the end, they didn't eat their dinners (chicken and grapes notwithstanding), they didn't get their cookies, and they're still not quite asleep, hours later.
But we had dessert. And it was freaking amazing. (Everything tastes better after bedtime.)
Best of all, we have a cherished house guest staying with us this week, which is what brought all of this to my attention. Because the truth is: this is what dinner looks like every single night of our blasted lives. We just don't always have an audience.
Tomorrow: Girls' Night Out. Good luck, Robb.
She went to the park with us yesterday, and she ran almost as much as the boys did. When the boys were bored with the playground, dizzy from the spinning bucket, done climbing across the monkey bars, finished with the merry-go-round, and just short of traipsing through the fountain, she enticed them to turn on their imaginations and join her in an animal parade.
They galloped like horses. They waved their elephant trunks in the air. They roared like lions, kicked like donkeys, and strutted like peacocks.
Looking for inspiration for the next round, she asked Tuck, "What would Molly do if she were here?"
(Molly is our Chocolate Lab.)
Tucker thought. And he thought.
Then he said, "Oh! She would do this!" He marched over to my mom, pulled her face down to his level, and licked her - from chin to forehead.
Nobody could argue: that is precisely what Molly would do!