Saturday, July 15, 2017

Feel a Prayer

There was a place in the Big City where the presence of God hung a little lower than usual. Low enough that it extended down from heaven and touched the world of mortal men. Do you know of such places?

There are certain locations on the earth that possess a mysterious power to still the mind, calm the heart, and fill the soul. You don't have to work at it to commune with God in these places. Like Anne of Green Gables says, you just "feel a prayer."

The Lake was this type of place. The Lake was Father to all. It was a soft teddy bear; a silky scarf; a tender kiss between righteousness and peace. In the midst of urban apartment life with voices constantly beneath, above, and beside you, the Lake was quiet. It was our backyard oasis.

When something was pressing heavy on your mind, you went to the Lake to think about it. When you were joyful and needed a place to celebrate, you went to the Lake. When you wanted to experience the bonds of deep friendship, you met up at the Lake.

The Professor and i went there all the time. We went together, to walk hand-in-hand and talk of many things. We went alone, to think, feel, or pray. Without that sacred place, life in the city would have been soul-crushing.

When we moved to the Kingdom of the Cornstalks, one of the first orders of business was to find a new Lake. Another place that fulfilled the same purpose. It seemed natural that Cornstalk River would be to the Kingdom of the Cornstalks what the Lake was to the Big City.

Wrong.

The locals feared Cornstalk River. Whereas the Lake demonstrated the gentle, loving nature of God, Cornstalk River exhibited His fearsomeness. Cornstalk River was not a tame lion. Three years before we arrived, Cornstalk River had flooded and caused significant damage. The city was JUST starting to rebuild but wasn't sure if it could open its heart to the River again. Cornstalk River was a place where angels feared to tred.

After sadly crossing Cornstalk River off the list of possible God-places, i searched for new ideas. Except, i couldn't find anything. I could not for the life of me figure out how people could live like this??? WHERE ON EARTH do they take their hearts to be renewed?

At long last, after living here for six years, i found it! I found the God-place!

Unfortunately, it is somewhat remote and not easily accessible. To get to the Lake, all we had to do was walk east for one block. The new God-place is off of a hiking trail in a state park.

On our family adventure today, we went hiking in a new place. We could see a glorious-looking bank on a river, but had to work hard to find a way to get to it. After veering off the path and cutting through some vines, we made it! And the instant we stepped foot on the riverbank, we felt the magic. The air, the sky, the enchantment—it was all there. Sunny and Bright Eyes felt it. Dimples was having the kind of day where being two years old was a little too distressing, but i know she will feel it in time. While we were there, time froze and our cares melted away. When it was time to leave, we all felt refreshed.

No wait, i take that back. We all felt EXHAUSTED! The trek back was a very steep uphill climb. The ever-energetic Sunny and Bright Eyes ran up ahead, but soon they too were huffing and puffing. Dimples was riding in the Ergo on The Professor's back and said, "This is hard work!" You know a trail is hard when even being carried on it is difficult!

We arrived at the van sweaty and thirsty with hearts pumping from exercise. And yet, here is evidence that the God-place was real: no one was grumpy! The car ride home was filled with people living in that satisfaction that comes from a meaningful experience.

It remains to be seen if this new God-place can take a permanent place in my life due to its remoteness. But at least for that one time, i could breathe the free air. One day, the dwelling place with God will be with His people. He will wipe away their tears and make all the sad things come untrue. Until that day, i hope to find more places where God comes down and walks with men in the cool of the day.



In the Garden
(Grandma Mac's favorite hymn)

I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses
and the voice i hear, falling on my ear
the Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me
and He tells me i am His own
and the joy we share as we tarry there
none other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet, the birds hush their singing
and the melody that He gave to me
within my heart is ringing.

I'd stay in the garden with Him,
though the night around me be falling
but He bids me go, through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.



Thursday, August 11, 2016

Celebrating a Difficult Kindergarten Year

You may recall that Sunny had a great deal of trepidation on her first day of kindergarten. Thanks to the encouragement and prayers of family members, she bravely went through with it. What we didn't know on that first day was that the same Bible verse of "be strong and courageous" as well as the motivation of "you can do this!" would be required not just on the first day, but throughout the entire year.

Someone came up with a rule that on your child's first day of school, you are supposed to take a picture of them by your front door holding a chalkboard sign that says (in fancy lettering, of course) "First day of Kindergarten 2016." Naturally your child will be dressed in the latest back-to-school fashions with their hair styled perfectly. The whole point of this is to subsequently share the photo on social media.

Well, we broke the rule. Mornings do not agree with Sunny and i, so there was no expertly styled hair nor was there any spare time for pictures by our front door. Instead we hopped in the car with oatmeal residue still on her face and zoomed like escaped convicts to the school so that she wouldn't be late on her first day.

The same rule applies to the last day of school, except on the last day you have two options. You can either 1) retake another picture in the same spot as the first day and collage the two side-by-side to illustrate how much your child has grown, or 2) take a picture of your child hugging his/her kindergarten teacher with glowing smiles on both their faces. Option Number Two also involves a write-up about how wonderful the teacher was and how thankful you are for his/her role in influencing your child for good.

For a couple of weeks in May/June, facebook is filled with these end-of-the-year pictures. When i saw people posting pictures from Option Number Two, it really got to me. The reason it affected me was because the image of a happy, hardworking teacher hugging a beaming, fulfilled child was the exact opposite of our experience.

Sunny's first year of school was a huge challenge. She herself thankfully didn't know how difficult it was because she had nothing to compare it to. My problem was that i had way too much to compare it to. I don't remember my kindergarten teacher, but i sure remember the teacher i had in first grade. She was a legend. She was the epitome of everything a godly teacher should be. She was nurturing, caring, and wonderfully soft to hug. It's as if when God invented the job description of a loving first grade teacher, she was the prototype He used to build all the others.

I attended a private Christian school and Sunny is in public school, so of course i didn't expect her teacher to be exactly the same as a Christian teacher. But i did at the very least think that a kindergarten teacher would behave like someone who likes young children.

A couple of months into the school year, i found out that our school is a struggling, over-crowded, low-performing Title I school. I learned that the teachers were all horribly burnt out and exhausted. I could look in their eyes and see that on some days they wanted to quit on the spot. There are way more children with issues than can be accommodated. A couple of times a month, one of the troubled kids in Sunny's class would have a violent outburst of aggression that resulted in either physical damage to the classroom or physical injury to other students.

So when i was faced with other families' joyful pictures on the last day of school, i decided that we needed to have a major celebration. Sunny's kindergarten experience was awful but you know what? SHE DID IT. She made it through. Every day she returned to a room full of crisis, anxiety, and yelling. We all made it through, because it took a lot out of the Professor and I too. Because she wasn't aware of how tough her school conditions were, she wasn't aware of how admirable her perseverance was.

We kept the whole thing a surprise. The Professor picked her up from school while Bright Eyes and i set everything up (with Dimples following around trying to undo all our work). There were balloons, posters, noise blower things, and confetti. We sat in the front yard straining our eyes to catch a glimpse of the car coming down the street. As soon as they were in range, we held the posters up high and went to town on our noise blowers. The Professor pulled into the driveway and when Sunny got out of the car we cheered and threw confetti into the air.

At times she can hate being the center of a big fuss but i could tell she was touched. I feel confident that our little family party communicated what i wanted it to: that she is special and we are all behind her.

Who knows what her first grade year will hold, but i am so proud of her and thankful that the Lord carried her through that experience.

Confetti face 

 Dimples and Sunny

Posters

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bringing You Up to Speed

The previous blog post was about the first day of kindergarten. Now i am dying to write about the last day of kindergarten, but a whole lot has happened since then! It is kind of sad to write about the first day of a school year and then jump to the last day, skipping everything in between. So here is a quick run-down of the major events of the 2015-2016 academic year. Many of the things listed below deserve a blog post of their own. I hope to be able to come back and write about each individually. Until then, we will at least have an outline of what we've been up to this year.

September 2015

Sunny's Best Friend's Birthday - We all LOVE Best Friend so much. She is a wonderful girl and the perfect fit for Sunny. Their relationship is important to me, and i hope they can remain friends for a long time. Best Friend and her parents live on a homestead out in the country with chickens, pigs, a giant Saint Bernard, and tons of land to explore. Going out to their house is always a treat!


Apple Picking - We went apple picking on a gorgeous day and had a wonderful time.




October 2015

Gammer and Granddaddy's Visit - We had not seen my parents yet in 2015, so we were very thankful when they came to visit us!


Halloween - You may be surprised to hear this, but Halloween this year involved a lot of shiny satin and sparkles. Everyone was a princess, and everyone had a good time. We went to a harvest party at a church nearby and then went home to trick-or-treat on our street. Getting out to see our neighbors is important to me, so we always make sure to go trick-or-treating.



November 2015

Teeth Fell Out - Sunny lost a tooth at school. There is a lot of fanfare when you lost a tooth at school. The nurse gave her a little treasure chest to keep her tooth in and she proudly wore a sticker to let everyone know.


Dimples' First Birthday! - Cute little Dimples turned a year old. There was cake involved, which meant that Sunny and Bright Eyes were VERY excited. Dimples herself wasn't so sure about the cake, though.


Wonderful Thanksgiving - Our beloved friends Tripp and Laura along with their brood came to stay with us for Thanksgiving. Being with them was rejuvenating and uplifting. It was hard work wrangling six kids but well worth it! With our combined forces, Laura and i made THE BEST turkey. It was soooo delicious.


December 2015

December was jam-packed, as Decembers tend to be. We participated in some new holiday events this year that were a lot of fun!

Christmas Market and Parade - I took Sunny and Bright Eyes out for some Cornstalk Christmas festivities. They were so adorable, experiencing things for the first time. The highlight was probably getting their faces painted.


Singing in Church - All of the younglings at church went on stage in their Christmas finery to sing "Away in a Manger" with hand motions.


Nursing Home Nativity - My moms' Bible Study group went to visit a nursing home to put on a live nativity with the children. Dimples played the part of a lamb. She didn't even try to stay put for a picture, so this was the best we could do. Most of her black lamb nose had rubbed off already. Dimples was the youngest kid present and all the old ladies just ate her up! She loves meeting new people so it worked out well. Bright Eyes was a fancy angel.



Christmas Day - We had a wonderful Christmas Day at home with just us. We implemented some new traditions this year (although hopefully filling the house with smoke while cooking the Christmas turkey isn't one of them). I'm very thankful for the cozy family time we had spending Christmas together.





January 2016

New Year's Eve Fondue - We celebrated New Year's Eve with chocolate fondue, which of course was a huge hit with all the miniature chocoholics we have around here.



Never-Ending Sickness - We then spent the rest of January being sick. We had to cancel pretty much our entire schedule and then we all lost our minds from laying around in our misery at home for a month.

February 2016

The Only Thing That Ever Happens in February - is snow, of course.


High School Pals Reunion - I traveled to San Antonio for a get-together with my best girl friends from high school. It was 85 degrees in San Antonio, so imagine the shock of going from the picture above to t-shirts and sandals! I had the best time catching up with old friends. The picture is MIA so i will have to add that in later.

March 2016

Easter - We had a lovely Easter. The church we were visiting at the time held its Easter services in a beautiful theater downtown. I had never been to this theater before and honestly didn't know that it existed. It reminded me of my beloved historic theater where i grew up in Dixieland, at which i have so many fond memories. Generally, the Kingdom of the Cornstalks is not a visually inspiring place. The buildings are mostly ugly and there is a widespread lack of appealing design. This theater was a very welcome oasis of beauty in the midst of an otherwise drab environment. I felt my spirits soar as soon as we stepped inside. It was so meaningful to celebrate our Risen Savior in such an intricate location.

Sunny and Bright Eyes were mesmerized. Their hearts came alive and they didn't want to leave. They ran up and down the stair aisles and walked through the rows and imagined all sorts of things.


After church we had lunch at the Griffiths' house, which has become a cherished tradition. This was our third year in a row spending Easter with them. Since we have no family nearby, we don't have any continuity in what we do for holidays. They have shown us great hospitality, and we are thankful to be included every year.

April 2016

Sunny's 6th Birthday! - That sweet girl turned six, and we are so proud of her. Gammer and Granddaddy came to join in the festivities. We had a family celebration on Wednesday and threw a party for her school friends on Saturday. The party was a blast. I really enjoyed all those precious (yet extremely energetic) girls! When i tucked her into bed that night, she gave me a sincere "thank you" for all the work i put into making her birthday special.





May 2016

Holy moly, May was a blur! Before you have kids in school you hear all this talk about "such a busy time of year" and i always thought, "yeah sure whatever." It is majorly true, and we only have a kindergartener! I shudder to think a few years down the road when they are all in school and in higher grades. We had the double whammy of it being the busiest season for The Professor plus all of the end-of-the-year events for Sunny.

Kindergarten Showcase - The kindergarteners put on a performance of the songs they had learned in music class during the year. There was also an open house for parents and family to view artwork and writing assignments the students have done. Sunny was so proud to show off her work and tell us all the things she has accomplished in school. It was all kinds of adorable and we really enjoyed it. She is the one in the pink dress below. She styled her hair all by herself just for the occasion.



Mother's Day - was very sweet. The Professor and the girls worked so hard to make things special. They were excited for days about all the things they had planned and worked so hard not to give away the surprises.

Ice Cream Social - The PTA at Sunny's school sponsored an ice cream social to celebrate the successes of the school year. The weather was was FREEZING cold that day, and eating ice cream didn't help! Here is Sunny with some of her school buds, and Dimples trying to keep warm since we wouldn't let her run around.



Having Friends Over After School - The main goal of inviting Sunny's classmates to her birthday party was to obtain their parents' contact info. Once i had names and phone numbers of her friends' moms, i could start having friends come home with her after school. I was a little over-eager in this department, and learned many lessons the hard way. The kids had fun though!


The Little Mermaid on Broadway -  What an amazing experience! This will hopefully be a whole blog post on its own so i don't want to give away too much right now. For Sunny's birthday i bought tickets for the two of us to go on a mother-daughter date to see the Little Mermaid. We got all dressed up and went downtown. It's a memory that i will treasure!

Cornstalk Arts Festival - Is an event i look forward to every year. It is nice to have a little culture in the Kingdom of the Cornstalks every now and then. 

Field Day - I have such fond memories of field days with my school in K-8th grade, and was eager to volunteer at Sunny's school! That particular day was hot as all get out and i got burnt to a crisp. I always enjoy interacting with the elementary schoolers. My station was the "Bat Spin" in which players put their forehead on a baseball bat and spin around. Then they run to a cone and back. Our station was immediately before the water balloon toss, which every kid was dying to do in the oppressive heat. The half-heartedly endured the bat spin simply as a means to the end of water balloons.

Last Day of School - Woohoo! The last day of school is the prime reason i'm writing this post, because i wanted so badly to tell you about the end of school. We made a big deal out of it for Sunny and greeted her with fanfare. She survived a very rough year, and it was meaningful (to me at least) to celebrate her perseverance through a difficult situation.

Memorial Day -  Some brand-new friends invited us over to their house for Memorial Day. Their house is pretty much the closest thing to Disney World that our kids will ever experience. It was AWESOME. These new friends are inspiring people that i hope to spend more time with so i can learn from their strength of faith and character. They have adopted three special-needs children from China. The mom is a former special ed teacher who is extremely gifted at loving children. They have created an impressive play environment for their beautiful adopted daughters. The only trouble is trying to get your kids to leave when it's time to go!

And that wraps up the basics from our 2015-2016 school year! Thanks for joining us in this snapshot of our lives.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life

She had been scared about it for quite some time.

She mentioned on several occasions that she didn't want to go; she wanted to learn at home like her friend Addy.

To ease Sunny into the idea of starting kindergarten, I checked out several books from the library about "My First Day of School." It gave us the opportunity to talk through the new experiences she would have. In most of the books, the main character rides the bus to school. I happened to mention that she would not ride the bus. I would drive her to school, where she would line up on the playground and walk inside with her class.

She declared immediately, "NO! I won't go! I'll grab onto you and scream!"

Honestly, that was exactly what I expected. We had visited a new church over the summer, and when I took her to her class, she clung to me and cried. They had to pry her off of me and bear hug her while I dashed out of the room. I pictured that very scene repeated at school, with a hundred other kids and their parents watching.

As the day of reckoning drew painfully close, we focused on how to seek God in the midst of fear. Naturally, the famous Joshua 1:9 was at the forefront:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged,
for the Lord Your God will be with you wherever you go.

I asked family members to write her letters of encouragement. She received a couple of letters, which she kept hidden under her bed with her personal treasures. The letter from my dad talked about—if you can believe it—Joshua and courage. We read it each night at bedtime.

At last the fateful day arrived and moved from the realm of hypothetical to reality. We were, shockingly (haha), running late. We rushed out the door and sped the 4 minutes to school. We arrived at the playground and located line #2. She got in line, where we hugged and did our standard Bye Words. Then more children started assembling and her anxiety mounted. She said, with an undertone of panic to her voice, "I don't want to go! Please let me stay with you."

I knelt down and took both her hands. I told her to remember the words from Granddaddy's letter: You can do this! I told her about Joshua having courage when he was afraid. We repeated several times, "You can do this!"

And by some miracle, she believed it. She remained fixed on her yellow line while I moved off to the side. She didn't cling to me or follow after me. There were kids everywhere now and it was very loud. There was a paparazzi of parents snapping pictures on their smartphones. I don't have a smartphone, but I had brought the camera. I yelled to her above the din, "Can I take your picture?" She meekly nodded yes. I reached for my purse but it wasn't there. It was at home, sitting on the kitchen counter. Without any technology or devices taking up our focus, we were left with nothing but old fashioned human experience. I have no digital image to preserve the moment, only the memory etched forever in my mind.

Separated by a throng of boisterous elementary schoolers, we maintained eye contact across the distance. We couldn't hear each other to yell words of encouragement, so we communicated with our hearts and our faces. It looked exactly like the dramatic train-station goodbyes you see in movies.

Her teacher wisely knew that she needed some extra care. She came and took Sunny's hand to escort her along the way. And then my precious girl marched off to school, brave and strong. I was so, so proud of her.

The visual of the back of her auburn head and favorite purple dress as she walked away from me hit me hard. There she goes, off into the world, and things will never be the same again.

I exhaled slowly and thought, "Wow. That was a fast five years."

Except no. No it wasn't.

Those five years were HARD EARNED. But now that I am placing my most valuable possession in the care of another, every moment that she was under my wing became precious. As Jessie sings in Toy Story 2, "Every hour we spent together is within my heart."

Her little years, intense as they may have been, are officially over. She's a school girl now. It was one small step to get on line #2, but a giant leap for her to voluntarily walk forth into the unknown. Kindly, mild-mannered Mrs. Porter didn't know that as she held Sunny's hand, she was leading her into the future.

With a heart full of hopes, dreams, longings, and expectation, I used all my energy not to sob openly in front of all the smartphone strangers. My baby just walked away and I can't follow. Get to the van, get to the van, I thought. When in the van, there were kids to buckle into their car seats and other tasks such that I never did get the emotional release of a good cry.

We arrived back at home again, where the walls were singing this song:



Bright Eyes and Dimples couldn't figure out why their goofy mama wouldn't quit smothering them with hugs. One day their turn will come to walk away from me too and I have to soak up all the time until then. I set about to staring at the clock until 1:25pm. I couldn't get there fast enough to hear how it went and guys! Guess what:

SHE DID IT.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Something Went Horribly Wrong

From March 2015

As I mentioned in my last post, we have a new baby around here! New babies are sweet, snuggly, and MASSIVELY TIME CONSUMING.

The factory settings for a standard-issue baby take up quite a lot of time, and then when you throw in add-ons like personality, medical issues, sleep regressions, growth spurts, etc, it can really drive up the total pretty fast. We were given the Super Deluxe Primo Edition baby when it comes to how much time her care requires.

When she was about eight weeks old, Dimples started doing this thing of 30 minute naps. She will only sleep for 30 minutes. When it's time to transition from one sleep phase to the next, she wakes up and can't put herself back to sleep. Therefore she calls for Mama to come do it for her. The phase of sleep that she is transitioning into is an active, twitchy phase. Once she gets back to sleep, she can't stay that way for more than a few minutes before she jerks herself awake again.

As it turns out, problem-solving baby sleep troubles is somewhat of a hobby of mine. It's fairly pathetic that I actually enjoy the diagnosis and treatment of sleep issues. When this 30 minute business first popped up, I rolled up my sleeves and got ready for action. I tried this. I tried that. I tried the other thing.

All of those solutions failed.

I pulled out my collection of baby sleep books. I googled. I googled some more.

We went back for round two of problem-solving with a whole new list of hypotheses.

Round two failed.

So here we are, TWO MONTHS LATER, with a baby who will only nap for 30 minutes. Because none of my solutions have worked and because she absolutely has to get more sleep to avoid being an overtired mess, I now go into her room at the 30 minute mark. I jostle and jiggle her back to sleep and then hold her in the darkness for the remaining hour of her nap so that she will sleep.

This eats up an exorbitant amount of time.

To give you an idea of what my life is like, let me describe my schedule:

7:00am - 7:30am   Feed Dimples
7:30am - 8:00am   Shove breakfast into Sunny and Bright Eyes as fast as possible
8:00am - 8:30am   Put Dimples to sleep
8:30am - 9:00am   Dimples sleeps, aka my only free time
9:00am- 10:00am  Hold Dimples in her room in the dark
10:00am                Start the whole cycle over again

I spend two out of every three hours tied up in Dimples' room. This would be one thing if Dimples were a first-born or an only child, but alas, she is a third child. What do Sunny and Bright Eyes do while unsupervised for two out of every three hours, you ask?

Good question.

The answer is: WHATEVER THE HECK THEY WANT.

It is a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of young children that Sunny and Bright Eyes are able to invent new mischief day after day after day. As this 30 Minute Nap issue has perpetuated, all their Christmas toys have become old news. Even watching a movie, previously a rare treat, has lost its appeal. They went down the list of all the areas of the house they aren't allowed to play in and STILL had time left to spare.

One particular day, Dimples was having an ugly reflux flair-up. She was miserable and cried a lot. It was very difficult to get her down for a nap and took a lot longer than usual. I came out of her room after an athletic event of bouncing, jostling, rocking, and jiggling. I was supposed to go check on Sunny and Bright Eyes since i'd been gone for longer than I had promised, but I JUST WANTED TO BRUSH MY TEETH. There were several things that needed my attention immediately before I became sequestered in Dimples' room for an hour, but I was desperate for two minutes to brush my teeth.

I decided to go for it, and knew that I was taking a huge risk, but little did I know how huge of a risk it would be.

Right after I got started, I heard Bright Eyes come bumbling upstairs. She stomped towards the bathroom and I felt her presence in the doorway. As I was leaning over the bathroom sink brushing my teeth, I heard her softly call my name.

I turned my head slightly to the side and was about to do my best to communicate, with a mouthful of foamy toothpaste, that she needed to keep quiet and not disturb Dimples. But as my peripheral vision landed on her I could instantly sense that something was amiss. Everything went into slow motion as my hand holding the toothbrush dropped down from my mouth. I turned to look her head-on and felt my stomach drop.

This is the Bright Eyes that I was expecting to see:


But this was the Bright Eyes standing before me:


I hoped against hope that it wasn't true, and refused to believe it until I got a closer look. With toothpaste dribbling out of my mouth, I knelt down in front of her to assess the damage. The examination confirmed my worst fears. All of Bright Eyes' luxurious soft curls were gone. Her hair was as short as a boy's.

In that moment it was too much for me to take in, and I burst into tears. I cannot describe to you how much I LOVED that hair. Just a few weeks before, we were at church when Bright Eyes was having a particularly fabulous hair day. A couple of church ladies came over to me and asked, "Do you curl her hair? It's so gorgeous!" I answered, "Are you kidding me??? I barely have time to brush my teeth in a given day. Anything her hair does, it does all by itself." Now one of the precious few things of beauty in my life of toil was abruptly and haphazardly taken from me, and I sobbed bitterly.

Bright Eyes was completely taken aback by my reaction. She had a guilty conscience and she was expecting to get in majorly big trouble. She had counted on yelling, fuming, and probably a spanking. She did not plan on a crying Mama, and was weirded out by it.

Throughout all of this, I noticed that she kept both of her hands firmly behind her back. It was a minor detail that my brain picked up on but didn't have time to process right then, given my extreme state of shock.

After I released some emotion, I needed answers. I pleaded with her, "Bright Eyes, what happened?!?" She was still uncomfortable with the situation and wasn't going to talk. I tried to hug her but it was awkward with her hands behind her back. Since I was getting nowhere with her, I raced downstairs to interrogate Sunny.

Sunny was around the corner in the back section of the basement, sitting in the middle of what looked like an Edward Scissorhands crime scene. There were beautiful light brown curls strewn all over the place. A small purple wastebasket was half-filled with hair. The sight of it all renewed my state of shock. I was still crying when I demanded that Sunny give me an account.

She stammered and sputtered and failed to form complete sentences. She knew she was guilty and that anything she said would be held against her. She was determined to give me as little information as possible.

As I continued trying to extract the details from the two of them, it struck me that something was a bit off with Sunny. She was positioned with her right side pointing away from me, so I didn't have a head-on view but there was something suspicious about it.

I happened to have plopped down on the floor right in front of the murder weapon. A pair of cheap dollar store scissors were laying in front of me, and I fiddled with them while we talked. It occurred to me that they were sticky, with a layer of hair clinging to them. Then I noticed that the table was also sticky. Then I noticed the half-empty bottle of wood glue sitting on the floor.

With this new information, the plot thickened. Scissors and wood glue are the kinds of things that you don't want your resourceful and unsupervised young children to have access to, so we kept them on the high shelf. These items that they misused so abominably were stored six feet off the ground. In order to obtain them, Sunny climbed onto The Professor's desk and stood on top of the printer.

As their list of wrongdoings was growing by the minute, I finally erupted into the angry outburst that they were waiting for. I pulled Bright Eyes towards me to sit her in my lap in order to outline her offenses and issue her punishment. It's hard to make someone sit in your lap with their hands behind their back. As I reached for her hands to move them out of the way, I discovered the hidden secret. Her hands were COVERED in glue. And then the glue was covered in hair. Instead of being tarred and feathered, she was glued and haired.

She had used the wood glue like hand lotion. Then she also rubbed it through her hair like hair gel. Things didn't go according to plan, however, when it didn't rub off of her hands like lotion would. The glue stayed there plain as day, a testament to her guilt.

If only it had been your basic Elmer's school glue. School glue is washable. Wood glue is most definitely not.



I paraded them upstairs to start the process of de-gluing them. We had made it as far as the kitchen when I got my first good glimpse of Sunny.


For the purpose of comparison, here is what she looked like before:


It was now time for Dimples' 30 minute wakeup, and I still hadn't managed to brush my teeth.

Their hair needed some serious fixing due to the uneven and choppy nature of their new styles. My haircutting skills are seriously lacking. What little skill I do have is with long hair. Therefore when The Professor got home from work, we packed everyone up and hauled them in for their first professional haircuts. The haircut ladies did a great job of taking a big fat mess and turning into something halfway cute!



They got oodles and oodles of compliments everywhere we went that week. So now here we are, a short-hair family. It took a long time for me to adjust to their new looks, and I relived some of the sorrow all over again when they woke up the next morning after I had forgotten about their short hair.

For old time's sake, let's look back at a few pictures of their former glory:


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Something Went Right For a Change!

I have been fighting the Battle of the Bathroom Sink for a couple of months now. Bright Eyes developed a fascination with the bathroom sink and an affinity for playing with water. At every possible opportunity, she makes a beeline for that sink. Sometimes she takes her tea set in there; sometimes she gets out her bath toys to play with; sometimes she just uses whatever happens to be on the bathroom counter.

One time, while i was tied up in another room, she pulled the stopper to fill up the sink and decided to "take a bath." She sat on the counter and put her feet in the sink. After washing her feet, she plunged her head into the water to wash her hair. The trouble is that she left the facet running full speed for all of this. The water just kept pouring into that sink until it overflowed. It ran over the edge of the counter and onto the floor. After a few inches of standing water collected in the floor, it seeped through the ceiling of the room below and rained water into that room as well.

After what had previously been an annoyance turned into a major flooding episode, we laid down the law on the sink. She was forbidden to enter the bathroom without express written consent. It worked for a little while, until like many things that parents take an extreme stance on, life moved on and other misbehaviors required our attention. We got distracted from enforcing the sink rules and she slowly eased back into her old ways.

Another of her favorite things to do is "clean the bathroom" by getting a wad of toilet paper and wetting it to wipe the counter/mirror. She can't reach the paper towels in the kitchen, which we typically use for cleaning, so she substituted the next best paper product that she had access to. Unfortunately, toilet paper doesn't hold up to water in the same way that paper towels do. As a result, lots of little wads of wet toilet paper washed down the sink. After one particular episode, the sink was never the same. It started draining very slowly. I tried a couple of different remedies, ranging from vinegar (my go-to solution for all life's problems) to Drain-O. Nothing helped. 

We lived with a slow-draining bathroom sink for a while. I was too swamped with life to do anything not related to basic survival. It always bugged me, but i simply didn't have time to fool with it.

But then Bright Eyes got into trouble with the sink AGAIN, and it quit draining altogether. Once the problem escalated from Moderate Inconvenience to Urgently Needs Intervention Now, i cleared my schedule and sprung into action. 

I needed to remove the stopper from the drain. I am extremely unskilled in the household repairs department, so i did not have the know-how to tackle the project. Thank goodness we live in the age of Youtube; a quick seven minute video made me an instant expert! Youtube told me that i had to lie on my back and stick my head inside the bathroom cabinet. At first i thought, "Oh my this is more than i bargained for!" Thankfully it turned out to be very simple. I felt like a professional plumber lying there under that sink. It was so easy to unhook the thingamajig that holds the stopper in place. 

I started removing the stopper from the drain and HOLY COW IT WAS DISGUSTING. There was gunk dating back to 1975 inside that drain. I was unprepared for the huge glob of nastiness that came out. After the nasty part was over, the sink was like new! It drained faster than it had in a year. 

I was SO pleased with myself, i was practically giddy. Although it was an extremely gross task, it was the quickest & easiest solution to a problem that i'd experienced in a long, long time. It was so endlessly satisfying to take on something i didn't know how to do and conquer it so completely.

Having something go right is extremely atypical of my life the past few months, because of this:



Allow me to introduce Dimples.

Dimples joined us on November 13, 2014 with quite a bit of fanfare. How she entered the world is a story for another day. She's a beautiful little critter with a huge smile. Despite how sweet she is, life with her has been pretty difficult.

The trouble with new babies is that there's so much gosh-darn uncertainty. Even when you've already had a couple and you think it should be old hat, they have a way of taking any confidence you feel and throwing it out the window. Those early weeks are the worst. You haven't yet collected enough data to be able to predict what the baby is up to. Every cry is a lengthy decision tree. Is she hungry? Is she sleepy? Does she need a diaper change? Is she gassy? Does her tummy hurt? Is she reacting to something I ate? Is she too cold? Did the pacifier fall out?

It goes on and on and on.

Because of my background in Emergency Medicine and Intensive Care, I do actually enjoy diagnosing things. It's satisfying to isolate the variables and figure out the cause of a problem. But newborns push the limits of even the most accomplished diagnostician.

Therefore, those first few months make you batty. It's too much insecurity to tackle with too little sleep. Unlike the problem of the bathroom sink, issues with a newborn aren't resolved so quickly. There is no seven minute Youtube video that makes you an instant expert on getting your baby to do life perfectly. You can remedy the source of the crying right now, and at 3am there will be an entirely new problem to fix. And at 6am. And 10.

Its exhausting.

So praise the Lord for that sink! It was nice to know that I can in fact do something right every now and then. Getting my baby to sleep is a loosing battle, but at least my sink drains like a champ.


Thanks for reading! Tune in next time for "Something Went Horribly, Horribly Wrong."
 

Friday, January 17, 2014

About Our Grandparents: Grandma Jackie and Grandpa Lou

We LOVE Grandma Jackie and Grandpa Lou. They are The Professor's grandparents on his mother's side. We don't get to see them more than about once a year because they live in Dixieland and Grandpa's cancer treatments keep him close to home.

Here is a summary of our encounters with them over the past few years:

2009: They came for The Professor's PhD graduation! It was so meaningful to have them there.


 2010: They came to see Sunny when she was born! It was quite the travel experience for them. Our arrangement was that we would call them when i went into labor, and they would hop in the car and drive right over! Except, it was a 12+ hour drive.


2011: We saw them in Zion for Grandpa Mac's 90th birthday weekend. They were so sweet with Sunny. Sunny and Grandma both share an affinity for strawberries, and i think Grandma fed Sunny about 6 pints of strawberries that weekend.

 
2012: They came for Sunny's 2nd birthday, and we had a blast! They got her a pink folding chair, which she still uses to this day.


 2013: We went to their house in Dixieland. That week was the first time that they met Bright Eyes, so it was very special.


The thing that is so impressive about Grandma Jackie and Grandpa Lou is that they truly care about people from their hearts. They are so encouraging in all their conversations. They have faithfully served the Lord for decades, despite numerous hard times. We respect who they are and what they stand for, and we hope to model their faith. Their constant trust that the Lord will provide gives them so much peace. They aren't phased by things, either big or small.

Grandma is the picture of Southern hospitality in that she shows her love by feeding people. When we visited them at their house, we were not planning to eat a meal. Well, Grandma had other plans! She laid out a huge lunch for us. She made sure to have all the things she used to make for The Professor when he was growing up.

While Grandma bustled around in the kitchen, Grandpa played with the girls. He won their trust, such that after lunch was over, Sunny felt comfortable enough with him to invent a game. He was pretending to be a blackberry and she was pretending to be a spider eating him. It was so funny!


After we got back home to the Kingdom of the Cornstalks, Sunny was playing with a toy that Grandma/pa had given her for Christmas. Because she didn't see her gifts again for about a week after opening them, i reminded her who the toy was from. She said, "Oh! I'm so glad they got this for me, i really like it! We should Skype with Grandma to tell her thank you!" But sadly, Grandma has no computer and cannot Skype =[.

Grandma writes us a letter every few weeks, and always includes a check. During the height of our money troubles, those checks were our only spending money. We put $10 in Sunny's pink piggy bank, which goes to her college fund, and The Professor and i split the rest. Having that little bit of "fun money" was such a blessing! We think of Grandma and Grandpa often, and wish that we could spend more time around them so that their good character can rub off on us.