Wednesday, May 26, 2010

up to the sprinkle donut

lucy and i have this sweet saying between us. it goes, "i love you up to the sprinkle donut." lately, it has turned into, "i love you up to a thousand sprinkle donuts, up to all the sprinkle donuts in the whole world."

we have a thing for sprinkle donuts.

really, i don't even remember when we first started it. i know it evolved out of the book Guess How Much I Love You--i love you up the the moon and back, etc. . .and it's grown from there.

lucy blesses me each and every day with how much she adores me, just for being me. but the crazy thing is that had it been my choice, i wouldn't have a fifth child.

what i am saying is that if i had been given the choice, before i got pregnant, to have another child, i would have, without a doubt chosen to be done. four was enough, more than enough for me. i am really the most unlikely person to have five kids. believe me. people who have known me--before kids--tell me this. they are shocked. me too.

believe me, me too.

when i found out i was pregnant, again, i was not excited. in fact, i think i was in denial. i didn't tell anyone. i secretly hoped it would go away. i knew this could not be good for my life. i knew it was not my plan and so it could not be God's plan. two days later i was on a women's retreat, in a small group with two women who desperately wanted to get pregnant, who'd miscarried and were struggling with their broken hearts.

i shook my head at God. why would you give me more? take mine and give it to them. it is too much for me.

i kept imagining my life as a board game--like candyland--just when i thought i was making some progress to getting my life back--i got that damn Mr. Mint and got sent back to the beginning. i hate that game.

i kept thinking it would just go away. i went shopping and bought regular clothes. i got to wear them for about two months.

it wasn't until i saw the perfect outline of her body on the ultrasound, that i gave up the fight.

and this is how i know, undoubtedly, that God knows what i need and desire in my heart, more than i know myself--because i love lucy up to the sprinkle donut. up to all the sprinkle donuts in the entire world. and each night i put her to bed, i thank God He didn't listen to me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mr. Darcy

I entered a contest this week to win a beautiful necklace. The entry was, "what is your favorite Jane Austen novel?"

If you know me well, you know I LOVE Jane Austen. The contest started me thinking why I loved these romantic, unrequited love (till the last few pages) at it's best, novels. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite. I literally stayed up one night till 2a.m. in the bathroom (so I wouldn't wake up Steve) finishing it--and that was the second time I read it.

I have thought about it and I realize that I love these kinds of novels because they let me experience, vicariously, what I, as a married woman can only reminisce about--that time when I first fell in love--before anything was certain, before I knew he felt the same and just the sight of him made my heart pound and my hands shake.

I can't recreate that with my husband, not in it's pure form. I will never wonder again, "Is he going to kiss me?"

One night, after watching "Made of Honor", no Jane Austen but the same elements, I felt kinda sad. I had the realization that I would never feel that way again--the newness, the uncertainty, the little games played to be where he is. . .

But I am not stupid. I know that part only lasts a few weeks at best--which is probably why every movie and Jane Austen novel ends at this point.

And if the book continued, I'm thinking even Mr.Darcy would probably forget to close the bathroom door or pick up his towel off the floor. He and Elizabeth would probably argue over the bills or the new hat she had to have (shoes for us modern day girls).

And their love would grow and mature, the roots spreading deep into both their hearts--like mine has.

To enter, to to Lisa Leornard's page:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Splashin' Water Park

Emma is an amazing person. She has this gift for making something fun out of nothing. Popsicle sticks, paint and glue become a miniature of her own blue house. Yesterday a balloon and some pink party streamers became a volleyball tournament. She gets it from her dad. The vision to see what can be--just with a few items and a lot of imagination. Steve and I wonder all the time how this gift will work it's way into the woman she will become. I can't wait to find out.

Today it was a water park--complete with a concession stand, first aid supplies, and work shifts for each of the kids. They all fell in line. She can be quite bossy (who knows where that came from). But they all love to be a part of the magical places she creates.

All was going great--that is until Nate began acting like a boy. The girls cried, "Nate splashed me", "Stop Nate", "Mommy, Nate got water on my peanut butter and jelly", "Don't Nate", and on and on. Poor Nate. Really he can't help it. It was inevitable. He got kicked out of Splashin' Water Park.

I tried to explain to him that girls don't play like boys do. Of course he has heard this countless times but I am hoping that over a span of 18 years or so, it will one day make it into his brain. I am thinking that this will really save him a lot of counselling time one day when he gets married.

I am talking from experience, of course. And I am married to a guy who didn't have any sisters. He pokes fun, pushes my buttons, "splashes" me so to speak. All in fun, he says. He doesn't get it when I get mad.

Watching Nate today, I thought, "Wow, there it is. He just doesn't get it." What he thinks is funny, they think is annoying. When he is trying to play with them, they think he is trying to hurt them. They are speaking two different languages. The girls with their words, Nate with his hands (and any object near by).

I had to convince the girls to let Nate back in to Slashin' Water Park on a provisional basis. I told them to give him some slack. Emma laid the rules out for him. It bought him about fifteen more minutes. He tried.

I changed my tactic and said to the girls, "Boys don't play like girls do."

Maybe I'll get it into my brain too if I say it over and over enough.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


You can't make a three-year old be in a hurry.

I had this thought the other day as I pleaded and scooted and threatened Lucy into the car. I said ridiculous things like, "we have to be there in ten minutes," and "we can't be late, Lucy." Neither fazed her as she bent down to look at something in the grass and then pointed to an airplane overhead. My mind was set on the appointment I could not be late for. Hers was set on whatever happened to cross her path. A button in the grass, the book she found under the back seat of our Suburban, a piece of pretzel in her car seat--all she showed me with the enthusiasm of someone who'd just discovered a lost treasure. She laughed and squirmed as I tried to twist her into her seat--like it was some funny game we were both in on. I wasn't laughing.

Later, though, I had the thought. I can't make her be in a hurry. She is not thinking of time or appointments or late fees. She doesn't wonder what will happen next week, let alone a few hours from now. She is completely present in the moment. She can notice the button because her mind isn't occupied with a million other things. Me, on the other hand--it is like my mind is at least thirty minutes ahead of my body. I am thinking of the next thing and the next thing and on and on.

I was jealous.

I started wondering how many things I miss being in such a hurry through life and a bit annoyed with myself that I was trying to hurry her along with me. Had I lost the ability to appreciate the little details or was I just choosing to ignore them? I decided it was the latter.

And so, I have decided to slow down a bit and see the day through Lucy's eyes more often. You know, "stop and smell the roses" (sorry, I couldn't help it).

Who knows what treasures I might find.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Eulogy: part 2

Continued from part 1 (November)

Maybe she thought she didn't do anything special enough to need a funeral. Maybe she didn't want my mom to have to go to the expense. Or maybe because she'd lived long enough to see all her sisters, brother, parents and two loves die--she had just accepted that this was the next phase of her life and like she'd said, she was ready.

But still, I wish there had been that one last piece placed into the puzzle of her life--for me. I don't know if it would have been as much to say "goodbye" as to say, "I will never forget you."

That last time I saw her I knew it would be the last time and so there was this urgency. How do you encapsulate into a few words what has grown in your heart over a lifetime? She was propped up in the hospital bed she now spent every day in, just a few feet from a stranger in the next bed. This crazy, synthesized Christmas music was playing too loud in the halls. An alarm went off at the front doors as two orderlies grabbed an old woman as she tried to escape while crying, "Why can't I just go outside, I just want to go outside!?"

Seriously. It was too much for me. And there was my Baba. Just another old person waiting around to die. I wanted to take her out of there. I remember she told me, "They keep the lights on all night long."

I was desperate to tell her what I had known--with complete certainty--my entire life; that I loved her--just because she was my Baba. That she mattered to me and those little things she did, they were part of me.

It didn't turn out to be the deeply touching moment you are imagining. The crazy music, the women in the next bed staring and smiling at me--and me speaking really slow and loud--really loud. But I told her.

It was only about two months later, that she died. A day just like any other.

When my mom came to see my new baby boy--she brought me the last box--her engagement picture I'd framed for her one Christmas, the charm bracelet that had jingled around her wrist, the tiny blue pill box.

It has been ten years that I have wrestled with giving her a proper "goodbye". Her name was Lucy. Three years ago I named my daughter after her. Someday I'll get to tell Lucy about the woman I named her after. And now this is the second part of that "goodbye"--to put into words all the thoughts and memories of her that I have taken with me.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Truth About Me

It is easy to judge someone's spirituality from the outside--I know, 'cause I've done it. I did it a lot, especially when I was doing all the things "good Christians" are supposed to do.

Someone wouldn't be at church for a while, wouldn't come to an event, wouldn't volunteer for whatever--and I'd think, "hum, they must not be doing well." (I hate even writing that. But it's the truth.) I could even deceive myself into thinking that my only thoughts were of genuine concern--but really, it was a judgement--and I'd already decided--yes, they were not doing well or certainly they'd be "here" or "there" or signed up for something by now.

Now I am that person.

Don't misunderstand me. I am not saying "doing things" or being involved at church is bad. ( Judging those who are involved is just as bad as judging those who aren't!) I am just sharing something God showed me about myself.

It was not pretty. It did not feel good.

He showed me what was in my heart--the truth behind my thoughts. The truth behind my motives. It wasn't harsh. It was simply like I stepped in front of a large mirror and finally saw all that was there--not just a part. I remembered thoughts I'd had about certain people and conclusions I'd made--all on this scale of my works on one side and theirs on another--yuck!

I saw that all my life I'd been climbing this ladder--to obtain some position--whatever it was. To be liked, to feel good, to be important--the right crowd, the right boyfriend, the right sorority--and now here it was again--a different name but the same thing.

A question that has lingered in my head for five years now has been, "If no one were ever to see or recognize me for anything I ever did again--except God--would it be enough for me?" Just for Him and no one else. Led by His voice not by obligation or guilt. Led out of love for Him.

I am free in this place. Free to be myself--not who I think I should be. Free to respond from a true and honest place in my heart.

I don't ever want to go back. I have a healthy fear of ever falling back into that place again.

I know the truth about me. God has always known--and He still loves me--

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Disease

Sometimes, the hardest part of being a mom--for me--is just being still, being present in that one particular moment. To just sit and play with my kids. To stop whatever seemingly urgent task I am doing and just look them in the eye and listen. It's like I get sucked into this tornado of cleaning, folding, phone calling, emailing--and I can't stop.

It's my disease.

In my mind I tell myself this lie that says, "today I have to do this but tomorrow. . ." But the next day comes and it is a new pile or mess or errand. And most times even if I am physically sitting there, my eyes are scanning the room and mentally creating a list of what needs to be done all around me.

Yesterday, I sat down in Lucy's room and played restaurant. She would say "What u want? You want pizza?" After a few minutes of pretending to eat and sip my tea, I felt myself getting up--my thoughts completely shifted to the load of laundry I hadn't switched over. I had to snap myself out of it and tell my crazy-cleaning self, "no, you are playing now, remember?" I pushed my butt back into the tiny wooden chair and asked for some more tea.

See, crazy as it is, the hard part of having five kids isn't all the laundry or picking up--I can do that all day long-like a hamster in it's wheel going 'round and 'round. The hard part is to divide myself between five little people and give them a piece of myself that is genuine and present.

I can't tell you how many times people have told me, "You are so calm. You never seem stressed. That is why you can have five kids." I can tell you (and so can Steve) that that is a total lie. It is just the way I deal with stress--I go into task-mode and shut down emotionally. Translation: I get really quiet and clean like crazy. And more and more--especially after baby number five--that has been the mode I've operated in. And I hate it.

In my head, I know that someday when my kids think back about their childhood, they won't remember how clean the house was. But there it is staring at me, that crayon under the couch, that pen mark on the wall, that last cup in the sink.

In my heart I know what I want them to remember--how I was there--laughing, crying, playing. How I listened to them when they had a story to tell me--how ever long or short--how I was willing to act silly and be wrong sometimes and laugh at myself.

That is who I want to be right now. Not the lady in the background--with a sponge in one hand and a towel in the other.