D is for…oh…Dang!

We do a weekly memory verse from the Bible. Recently I got some ABC Bible verse cards. They are très cute! AND ABC’s? Come on…perfection for this current age.

Well, this morning I pulled out D. For my own amusement, I try to guess the verse and then do a grand reveal. I had settled comfortably on “Delight yourself in the Lord,” when BOOM! I was hit with “Do everything without complaining or arguing,” (Philippians 2:14.) And if you can’t tell by my complaining about drawing this winner, I’ll say it clearly. I speak fluent complaint. No? Not clear? I complain. A lot. It is a sensitive area of weakness for me. I despise my complaining…and yet I persist. I have a lot to say about this struggle…about embracing myself as is…as Jesus does. Accepting my limitation…without condemning myself…while hoping for better. But that is another post.

And so, I’m a bit panicked. This will be an interesting week, and I hope to write through this struggle…speaking the gospel to both my children and to myself. The gospel here…I am a broken woman and God has asked me to raise children…and teach them stuff about behaving as decent human beings. I am a broken woman…both beautiful and terrible…full of love and compassion…and venom and judgement. I get some things right and some things wrong. And God asks me to teach…to teach my kids “to do everything without complaining or arguing” though I am the chief complainer. The gospel? I am loved. And I cannot keep this command. But I am loved. And I will teach them. And my girls will not be able to keep this command. And they will be loved. 

Now, Jesus…help me keep a straight face as I introduce my girls to this verse. Open up the discussion of my inability to do this non-complaint thing…and my comfort and hope. You are making me new. You are making my heart new. You forgive my failures, and though You call me to a standard I cannot keep, You adore me. Thanks, buddy.

 

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Pre-Kinder-Itis

Hello. My name is Jan. My daughter is about to enter kindergarten. The very fact that it is JANUARY and she will not begin until the fall probably tells you a little something about me. Or that fact that I went to my first home-school convention when she was eight MONTHS old. That might give you a hint. Or the fact that I’ve sat down with my buddy who is the principal of a local elementary school to get the lowdown on public education. And then there’s the private school that I’ve visited. Twice. That does a half a day kinder with TONS of outdoor play and exploration…and, by they way, is my dream school. And costs a million dollars. Oh, and I definitely plan on walking up the block to the elementary school at the end of our street to take a tour and sit in on a class.

What is wrong with me? You guys. This is not rocket science. I am CLEARLY the product of privilege. And perhaps emotional instability. And a touch of over-think-it-itis. Whatever the case, I am laughing at how absurd I am making this whole…venturing into education thing.

Phil? Cool as a cucumber. Of course. Cause at the end of the day, she will be fine. And she will do fine. And there will be mistakes and tears and injustice…whether I school her at home, up the street, or at my dreamy-dream school.

Though I know I am…uh…analyzing this thing to death…I can’t seem to stop myself. Thank God for Phil. Right? Oh, and for all those amazing options. Let’s not forget that. How fortunate?

But seriously, this little stint into motherhood…the FIRST one entering school…this thing has to have some sort of name. Right?

Oh. And the really funny part of my situation? After the first year, we will be an RV family. So we will be homeschooling. Hey. Maybe we’ll just skip kinder!

Chick Pea — TWO!

I am surprised to discover very few notes on Chick Pea this past month. So many of her changes have been…soft…unspoken. I’ve noted a vulnerability that is sweet…yet frightening. This impenetrable child has trusted her heart to us…she seeks gentle hugs in the quiet of day…she nuzzles my neck…seeking and finding comfort. I am undone.

At two years of age, Chick Pea:

  • names and narrates. This is one of my favorite stages. As she gets dressed, she names body parts…and explains what is happening, “Shirt on. Shoes on.”
  • is speaking so much. Her language has just exploded…in the best of ways.
  • signs like a pro. Miss Smarty Pants learns signs faster than anyone I’ve ever seen.
  • rubs soft foods, like yogurt and sour cream, all over herself. (This is likely a carry-over from her nighttime ritual. She has eczema, so we slather on the lotion each night. )Sneaky girl almost always waits until my back is turned or I’m out of the room. You’d think I’d learn.
  • lets me sing “Rock-a-bye Baby” to her and cradle her in my arms. (It occurred to me recently that she is the only one I have not sing lullabies to as a wee babe…and I went about remedying that!) The first time I held her like a baby and she relaxed into my arms, my heart ached. It ached for her…time I did not have with her…time her mother does not have now. I ached for all of the brokenness in her wee life.
  • tags along and imitates Denver in the sweetest of ways.
  • exhibits fewer strong-willed defiances…girl gets along. She gets along so well.
  • dotes on Sweet Pea…still. Such a sweet sister.
  • enjoyed a birthday party with her mom, her aunt, and her grandma. (We were invited to attend. Touching!)

Denver — THREE!

Glory be, she is three! What a girl. Denver is a river…deep, wild, at once peaceful and still, then full of fury…ever changing…ever winding…ever inviting. She’s the one who joins me in my quiet moments…just sitting…longing to connect in our unspoken language. And yet, she’s the loudest of my girls. This quiet soul…so LOUD. Not a single moment with this one is taken for granted. All that she is…every glance, giggle, cry, and yes…scream…each one is a gift…because she was born to another. She was carried and nursed and swaddled by another. And yet. And yet. The same loving arms that welcomed Denver to the world, courageously delivered her to us. Denver is our daughter. Our beloved daughter. Our darling girl.

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At three years of age, Denver:

  • loves to have her back tickled as she drifts off to sleep.
  • wears panties. All day long! (Still uses a pull up for night time.)
  • embraced her first RV trip. While the others wanted to stay in the RV upon hitting our campsite, Denver wanted O-U-T. She wanted to explore nature…girl after my own heart. She discovered the stream behind our campsite.
  • wants to feed me at each meal. With each offering she puts in my face, she eagerly says, “It doesn’t have wheat, Mom.” Of course, it typically does. Still. Cute.
  • calls raspberries daddy fingers, because of THIS. She puts a raspberry on each finger and sings the finger family song. She even uses that funky accent.
  • shows that she is THREE with her pointer, middle, and pinkie fingers. Don’t know why she does it. I hope and pray she never “corrects” it!
  • insisted on party hats for her birthday party. Insisted. And we happily complied.
  • calls dark feathers “dog feathers.” That’s my girl.
  • shouts, “Get me off this thing!” dramatically. No, she has never seen the Jetsons. It’s just our Denver.
  • lights up at the words Paw Patrol. Thus, a Paw Patrol birthday party with Paw Patrol party hats, plates, toys. Girl cannot get enough Paw Patrol. Her favorite is Chase…followed quickly by Skye. She likes me to sing the Paw Patrol song as a lullaby…which is quite the shift from her beloved ABC lullaby.
  • reminds me daily that we never know what surprises are just around the bend.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we proudly present…DENVER, the three-year-old!

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Eden — Four and Nine

Eden is such an enchanting girl. The girls wears her heart proudly on her sleeve. Good thing her heart is so lovely. Well, except for when it’s not. Even then, I adore that she is authentic in all that she is…hides nothing. She’s a breath of fresh air in a weary world.image

At four years and nine months, Eden:

  • is not satisfied with a simple, “no” reply. Eden’s version = “No, ho, ho!!!”
  • has named the phenomenon in which one sneezes and toots at the same time. It is an achoo toot. Quite appropriate, I think.
  • has mastered the remote. And life will never be the same.
  • does her own laundry. Or more accurately, can do her own laundry. Joyfully. Because she’s only four. (Phil is da man behind any chore stuff…teaches the girls to do laundry, to sort laundry, and to put away laundry. THANK GOD for this man.)
  • has discovered the delights of the chicken leg. And she’s terribly sad that only two legs come with a bird. AND, she’s discovering where chicken legs come from…which, yes, gives me pause. It freaks her out a bit that chicken legs are…CHICKEN LEGS. We may have a future vegetarian on our hands. We’ll see.
  • enjoys pork chops, but believes them to be chicken. She even asked, “Is pork chop a way to say chicken in French?” Hmmmm. Not so much.
  • looks for the recycling symbol on all of our food containers. Thanks, Rocky from Paw Patrol! We love you, buddy.
  • has embraced the joy of our new compost bin. Fun science stuff!
  • loves to play “house” with Denver. There are exactly two roles in house = the mother and “the dear.” I love that the kid is “the dear.”
  • greeted me one day with, “Mom, you’re just the woman that I wanted to see.”
  • thinks it is pretty hilarious to say “vulva hiney, vulva hiney, vulva hiney.” Yep, that’s a good one, kiddo.
  • unleashes her fury upon me from time to time. This one will need guidance in taking a moment or two to calm down before speaking…as does her mother! And just like me, she almost immediately regrets the words that flow forth. Case in point:
    • Eden: “When I am older, I am leaving and I will NOT be in your family ANY MORE!”
    • Me: “Oh! I’ll miss you. But I understand.”
    • Eden: “Well, I’ll stay close…in the neighborhood. And I’ll visit. BUT when you are mean, I will leave to be with my roommate.”
    • Me: “Sounds like a good plan.”
    • Eden: “But I’ll miss you when I’m gone.”
  • blesses me beyond measure.

Sweet Pea — Eight Months

The girl is on fire! She wants to get up and go, go, go with her older sisters. On top of that, I highly suspect she…much like her beloved Eden…is an extrovert. Though my snuggly-wuggly wee babe has been replaced with this go-getter, Sweet Pea has retained her sweet, gentle, contented yumminess. Everything she does feeds my soul with such peace and joy.

At eight months, Sweet Pea:

  • sits up. All on her own. Just like she’s been doing it her whole life. Oy.
  • wants to play ALL day. She down to only two good naps a day. And so it begins…or rather, ends.
  • holds her own bottle.
  • experienced her first camping trip. She happily played out in the “woods,” mouthing sticks, rocks…any bit of nature she could grasp in those beautifully chubby hands.
  • eats crackers. Sniff, sniff. Crackers. There’s no turning back now.
  • takes a bath in the bathtub now. Oh, this girl! Soooo fast! She’s growing up so fast!!
  • says “dah-dah-dah,” which is great and all. And to be fair, it was her first utterance. But hearing “muh-muh-muh-muh” makes me giddy. Giddy.
  • is everywhere! She is officially crawling. And nothing is beyond her. Sigh.
  • can drink from a sippy cup.
  • lights up the room…not only with her smile, but with her sweet spirit.

Fostering — This Spectacular Journey

A few days ago, Face Book graced me with a blast from the past…a post I wrote on our paper pregnancy. It was written by a fostering rookie. It made me want to pat that innocent, starry-eyed writer on the head and say, “Well now, isn’t that sweet?” But it was this…this paragraph that took the cake:

….This time, we are linking our arms as a family to take care of a baby in need, a baby we may not get to keep forever.  We are okay with that. We are okay with the potential heartbreak…and this is why. For as long or as little as we get to love on our new baby, for one moment in time, the world will be right for that precious one. And we are honored to be the ones to bring a moment of light into a child’s life.

Ummm, “…the world would be right for that precious one”??? Uh, we’re not that great. We get a lot of things right. But this parenting thing is a crazy train, and at various points, it has brought out our worst. Our very worst. In light of this realization…our focus in fostering has shifted…unexpectedly…beautifully.

Once upon a time, Phil and I hoped to save children from abuse and neglect. And we hoped to do this by providing a safe, stable home. But the thing is, our safe, stable home suffers from time to time. Periods of instability. Periods of brokenness. We’ve realized that within our own brokenness, we are in no position to save anybody. But we can help. We can reach out to hurting, scared, broken mothers and promise to be gentle with their children. We can pray blessings over the lives of the families torn apart by poverty. We can speak words of encouragement to parents who are lost…who sought to escape despair…only to find more despair at the hands of their addictions. We can seek reconciliation…for hearts…for relationships…for lives. And yes…we can love and hold and breathe hope into babies…building secure attachments…or at least laying the groundwork for such.

Our once upon a time is wiser today. Today, we fight just as hard for the mamas as for the babies. Today, our hearts beat just as furiously for the mamas as for the babies. Today, our hope has grown from healing children to healing families…to crazy plot twists with glorious resolutions.

Through it all, we are ever grateful to be a part. Here’s to our good fortune…the opportunity to joyride on this spectacular journey.