Thursday, January 29, 2015

Musings From Natalie #108

Heard this week...

"Mom, did you know bacon comes from a pig's butt?"

"Mom, when you had sex with Dad (presumably to conceive her), was there like music playing?"

Natalie: "Mom, do you know why your hair turns gray or people go bald?"
Me: "Why?"
Natalie: "It is a sign that you worked hard."

Friday, January 23, 2015

Puberty Waits for No One

Motherhood is filled with endless stages...sitting, crawling, walking, talking, etc.  Typical kids seem to enter each one seamlessly and without much trepidation.  But, with Noah, Steve and I have had to practically drag him through each one.  I remember the first time Noah stood alone.  The moment I clapped and squealed excitedly, he immediately sat down and wailed. It was nearly three months before he would try again, yet when he did he didn't just stand, he walked then ran across the room. Noah requires lots and lots of assurance.  He does not like to attempt something new unless he is 110% sure he can be successful doing it.  Noah thrives on routines and change of any kind causes him serious anxiety.  When he was five turning six he hated the idea of having a birthday and becoming a different age.  He wanted to stay the same.  I can understand that.  I wish I could stay right where I am, too...or at least that my body and mind could, anyway.  Which is why puberty and the emotional changes that go with it have really thrown me for a loop.  You won't find me coaxing or dragging Noah along...it's more likely I'm the one who will try to dig my heels in, hoping against hope that time would slow down already. 

Noah: "Mom, you know Julianne?"
Me: "From school? Yes."
Noah: "I like her.
Me: (heart pounding..oh boy, I'm not ready for this)  "You do."
Noah: "Yeah.  Last night I had a dream.  She was in it.
Me: "You had a dream? You always told me you never dream."
Noah: "I know, but I did.
Me: (Dear Lord)
Noah: "I wanted to dance with her, but first we needed to find a disco ball and..."
Me: (lalalalalalala) "I see."

Later that evening

Noah: "Mom, I think I'm in love."
Me: "Did you see Julianne at school?"
Noah: "Yes."
Me: Did you talk to her?
Noah: "No!"
Me: "Ok, just a suggestion
Noah: "I want to write to her."
Me: "Ok, do you need help?"
Noah: "No! I can...I can do it. I'm a big kid"
Me: (wow...this must be some crush because I think if given a choice he'd rather hang upside by his toenails than do any sort of handwriting.)

Behind his closed door I can hear him becoming more and more frustrated with himself.  I knock and pop my head in. I notice he's started a sentence, but most of the letters are backwards and nearly illegible.  My stomach lurches.

Noah: "I'm so stupid!"
Me: "That is definitely not true."
Noah: "But I want to do it."
Me: "Ok, what if I write it for you and you just tell me what to write."
Noah: "No!" (clearly his thoughts are for her eyes only. My heart aches)
Me: "What if I set you up on the computer?"
Noah: "Ok."
(After setting him up...he then becomes stuck with what to write after I heart U.)

I tilt my head toward Steve and notice he is sitting in the club chair, seemingly engrossed in a junk mail flyer; while Natalie is doing her best to blend in with the couch.  Feeling my stink eye upon him, Steve volleys back with a raised brow and a smirk. As he rises from his seat he asks Natalie if she can show him her rock collection again.


Noah: "I'm just so nervous! I don't know what to say."
Me: "Hmm...maybe start with what kind of music do you like...are you sure you want to lead with I heart u?"
Noah: "MOM!"
Me: "Ok..ok..ok."
Noah: "It's just...I'm putting my heart out there.  What if she doesn't like me?"
Me: (Oh dear...and I thought potty training was hard.)

I did my best to redirect him to the task at hand.  After coming up with several questions - he felt confident enough to finish it and gave it to her (via her best friend). 

Monday morning at drop off, Noah recognized Julianne's parent's car ahead of us.

Noah: "There's Julianne."
Me: (in my head I'm thinking he needs talking points quick) "I see...you could ask her about her weekend... do you need help remembering? You hung out with Evan and went to the park and.."
Noah: (He raised his hand for me to stop) "Mom, I don't want to do that."
Me: "Oh."
As he stepped out of our car he turned, gave me a side glance and said, "I work alone."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Christmas Wrap Up 2014

Sometimes life gives you lemons, but with a little creativity and luck, you are able to make lemonade.

On December 18th, our family was dealt a whole truckload, when we learned of the passing of my cousin's sweet baby, Georgia Grace.  Just 7 months old, she was all sugar with just a hint of spice.

Creativity would be of no use...what we needed was a platonium-powered Delorean.

For days afterward, I walked around in a fog, half-listening to my kids as my thoughts and prayers remained focused on my cousin and her family.  I tried to put myself in her shoes, but found I couldn't even wriggle a baby toe's worth of understanding.  There is just no pain to compare with the depth of heartache associated with losing a child...and there really are no words one can say to take away the pain or speed up the healing process.  Bottomline: there will always be a Georgia-shaped hole on our hearts. I will continue to pray for God's healing grace to help her family find a way to carry on without her.

Steve and I didn't finish with our elf duties until nearly 1 a.m. Christmas morning.  My sleep was fitful as I imagined my cousin's family and others like her separated from loved ones...whether by miles, discourse or death -- this holiday season.  Never was I so grateful to receive a courtesy wake up call from my children.  And, while I loved the new perfume from Steve and the scarf and gloves from the kids -- the best gift I received was good health and togetherness with my family.

After all the gifts had been opened, Steve fixed us french toast that would rival any served in a fine hotel.  The recipe calls for frying and then baking the concoction in the oven.  He called it a souffle as the egg-soaked bread more than doubled in height as it baked.  Afterwards we headed over to my parent's house to share the day with extended family.  We noshed on a smorgasbord of family favorites including roast beef, deviled eggs and Steve's famous blackberry cobbler.  Later we opened gifts and played a game of Rob Your Neighbor then listened to Steve entertain us with a bunch of old country songs from Hank Williams, Hank Thompson, and Jimmy Rodgers.

The next day we began packing for our trip to see Steve's family in Scio, (Sigh-O) Ohio -- an inaugural visit for the kids.  The last time I had made the nearly 1,200 mile round trip journey was more than 11 years ago when I was pregnant with Noah.

Needless to say, we were overdue. 

The week we spent in Ohio was both restful and rejuvenating.  My MIL made me my very own cherry pie and encouraged me not to share. My FIL introduced me to "fresh side" - bacon that is covered in flour and fried.  It's good, but a better name for it might be "fresh side of heart attack".  I read decadent books by Alice Hoffman.  I slowed down and days passed with little effort. Every afternoon family dropped in to say hello and join us for lunch or dinner.  Never in my life have I eaten so much red meat or mashed potatoes.  We had meatballs as big as baseballs and spare ribs that would rival those favored by Fred Flintstone.  One morning Steve had the opportunity to reconnect with his nephews with an impromptu rabbit hunting excursion.  Another afternoon, he spent a few hours giving Noah a private tour of the woods and "crick" he used to frequent as a boy. One of my favorite times was spent  perusing old photo albums and listening to stories of his childhood.  His name may be Steve...but there was a time when he answered to "Steven the Heathen".

We're already making plans for another visit because time waits for no one.  The greatest gift I can give my kids is fond memories.
Love at first BEEP.
Natalie wrapped up love.
Don't let that face fool you.  Coal was one of her favorite gifts.
Grandma Mary and Jack
Mom and Alicia compare chocolates.
All around the water tank waiting for a train....
cousins - Ella and Ethan
cousins - Natalie and Jack
1st, 2nd and all around good cousins
Rise n' shine and ready to hit the road

We stayed overnight in Springfield, OH.  The kids were never so happy to be out of the car and in a pool.
Too tired to leave our hotel room, we made due with peanut butter sandwiches...though Steve 'elfed" his up by adding both potato chips and toffee butterscotch popcorn.
Like Father, Like Son.
Two Little Monkeys...
In Scio, Noah learns to shoot...cans.
The view from my in-laws backyard.
My MIL Connie and SIL, Joanne wanted to be sure that Natalie wasn't bored at the house.  They brought home an empty refrigerator box.  She and I spent the week dressing it up with decorations, lights and even a doggie door.
Grandma Connie and Natalie
Sibling Shenanigans
Twins.
Natalie LOVED getting to know grandma's dog - Howie.
New Year's Eve we celebrated Grandma Connie's birthday.
We made homemade ice cream...twice in one week.
Joanne, Matt and Heather
The Whole Gang

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Deep Thoughts From Noah #56

Natalie: "Mom, did you know every family has their own smell?"

Me: "Yes, I believe you are correct."

Natalie: "What does our family smell like?"

Noah: (quickly interjects) "Victory!"

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Even God Believes in Fairies

In the days following Natalie learning "The Truth" about the Tooth Fairy and Santa -- I asked her if she was doing okay.

"Yeah, I'm good."

"Really?"

"Yeah, I found this star leaf on the playground at school.  It is magic and allows me to grant wishes."

"Hmmm..."

"Look, it's snowing.  I did that."

Natalie then went on to explain how she knows all about fairies.

"You see, before I was born God was going to make me a fairy, but then you had begged Him to give you a daughter.  So, He took most of the magic out of me.  He took out the little and he took out the wings, but He left a little bit of magic in.  I'm actually a fairy girl."

"When did you learn of this?"

"The other day...I think God knew I was really sad about the Tooth Fairy not being real so that's why now I can grant wishes.

"Really."

Yeah, my friend Bella wished to be able to fly."

"Wow. That's a tall order."

"Tell me about it."

"Ella wants to be a Jedi with a green lightsaber...I don't know how I'm going to make a lightsaber. And...my teacher, Mrs. Raymond, asked for it to snow up to her big toe tomorrow and for it to be sunny the next day."

"I see..."

Dear Lord:
Thank you for keeping the magic alive in my fairy girl's heart.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

He's Some Kinda Wonderful

I pride myself on being honest...but when I became a parent, I traded in some of my honesty cards in favor of developing a sense of wonder and magic with my children.

Today, the house of cards came crashing down after Natalie began grilling me about the Tooth Fairy's responses to the letter she'd left her the night before. She'd lost a molar (3rd tooth in a month) and had set out her Little Critters tiny bed with blanket along with a few Cheerios, a button and a glass bead (because everyone knows fairies love found objects...especially shiny things).  She figured her fairy was tired and hoped she might rest and enjoy a bit of refreshment before leaving our home.  In my desire, to play the role best, I went as far to figure out what my fairy name would be by using the Fairy Name Generator program.  I wrote, erased and rewrote my answers several times...not quite sure if I'd disguised my handwriting well enough...or written small enough.

My fairy name is Bindweed Goldwitch.  I chose elderberries as my favorite food and honeysuckle as my favorite color.

Initially, Natalie was thrilled to find some of the Cheerios she'd left had been eaten, the tiny bed unmade and answers to her questions...but something nagged at her and she continued to fire questions at me.  I did my best to deflect and evade, but something nagged at me, too.

She wanted the truth.

I found I could no longer lie...because the truth about little white lies is that they always need to be fed by bigger ones.

In my head, a battle waged between preserving wonder and maintaining trust with her.

When I finally conceded, she stopped, eyes wide and unblinking.

"What?...you mean it was you who left the glitter?...who ate the Cheerios and the berries and ...

TEARS

"So...Isaac was right," she continued.

TEARS

"I have no more wonder.  I'm heartbroken...no Santa either then...wait..."

"So there's no phone number for Santa?"...

Oh, the jig was up.

I held her and cried, too.  I cried for her loss of innocence and wonder.  I mourned over the loss of watching her engage in the fine art of fairy house-building.

I had tried to break the news gently by sharing with her The Truth About Santa letter so as to preserve her love of magic.

Instead, it only made her wail more

"I guess I'll just have to be an author then!" she cried.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I was hoping to grow up to become one of Santa's elves!...but now I'll just have to be an author," she explained.

Oh boy.  What have I done?...I've ruined my kid. And then another thought struck me -- what if she stops believing in God?...I've asked her to believe in so many things that weren't true...but God, although we've never seen him...He's different...but, what if she doesn't believe in anything I say anymore?...

Between sobs, I interjected, "But, you know God is real, right?"

"Of course I do," she responded indignantly.

I breathed a sigh of relief as I realized my child's sense of wonder was still very much intact.

Dear Lord:
Growing-up is so painful.  Thanks for giving me smart kids to help ease the process along.