Friday, January 29, 2010

Oy vey.

I just haven't had much to write about lately. Things happen, life goes on, and not all of it is blog-worthy.

This is why I love being a mom.

Reepicheep says to me this afternoon, "Mom, I'm just so tired." I asked her if she slept well last night. She says, "Yeah, but I think I'm just short on Vitamin D."

I told her to bundle up and go outside, for Pete's sake. There's still Vitamin D floating around out there in what little winter sunshine we're getting.

So she put on her outside clothes and made her way out the door. An hour later, we walked our friends out to their van, and there sat the Reepicheep, on the swing, messing around with the snow. Her brothers spotted her and got the brilliant idea to join her.

Two more kiddos, bundled up so well that they can't bend, out the door.

All was well and very well................................................until I heard the Pickle calling for his sister.

I thought it sounded a little weird, but he's the Pickle , after all, and known to use character voices from time to time. Heaven only knows where he got that, she typed in her very most proper English accent.

He really sounded a little muffled, and perhaps toward the edge of panic, so I had the Frog look out the window to see what was what. She hollered, "OH MY GOSH!!!"--and in rushed the Pickle. "You better rinse that off!" I heard the Frog saying behind him.

When he came through the door, I saw his face absolutely dripping with blood.

Good grief, I thought, he must have been hit in the mouth, and his braces tore through his lips. Or maybe he fell down and bit through his tongue. Or maybe he smashed his nose--he's rather prone to bloody noses.

No, no. None of those tragic things happened. Nothing quite so accidental as all that.

No, it became quickly evident that my son, the Pickle, one whom I love with all of my motherly heart, ate peanut-butter and stupid for lunch today. And I say this with all Christian charity. Really. There is no other explanation.

For what?

For the part where he licked a pole. It is 12 degrees outside. Twelve. That would be below freezing, for those of you not wanting to think when it's colder than 50. (I'm one of those, by the way.) You know, the kind of cold where if you were to be so silly as to lick something metal--like, perhaps a pole--your lips and/or tongue might perhaps just stick to the metal.

He licked a pole. He licked a pole. I have to keep typing it, because it's so incredibly boy that I can't even stand it, much less believe it. I took a peek out the window at the offending pole, and lo and behold, there is actually flesh remaining, adhered to the pole, frozen there like a little trophy. Little pieces of his lips, just stuck there to the pole. Because he licked it.

I instructed the boy to stick his mouth under the running faucet in the bathroom and rinse it until the bleeding stopped. Now he has a fat lip and a good story.

When I asked Reepicheep why she didn't lick the pole, she looked at me as if it were the silliest thing I had ever asked her (which, let's face it, it actually is), and she said, "Because that would have been foolish!"

Friday, January 15, 2010

Retreat anyone?

Cabin fever has set in around here, big time. This mama is seriously aching for something to do outside the house, and with our budget extremely tight these days (tight isn't the word--it's more like a vacuum.....), the options are limited (to say the least).

I have been feeling poured out lately. I don't know why I don't see this coming every year, but it really seems like it comes around annually. I know that seasonal depression is common, and I suppose that with the post-partum depression I've been dealing with it will probably be a little more intense this year. Yet, I was hoping somehow that it wouldn't affect me as much, that being aware of it would somehow stave it off or offer some shield of protection.

I have really great days, when I feel the Hand of the Lord lifting me out of the valley and setting my feet upon the promised Rock. Those days are almost enough to tide me over, for Pete's sake, and in the mean time my human feet forget how to stand, and I find myself slipping right back down into the valley.

My images of the valley from the mountaintop are not all that bad--I can see lovely green pastures, flowing streams of living waters, gentle rolls and pleasant copses of trees providing cooling shade and plentiful fruit. But I never seem to make it to that particular valley--it's as though I keep climbing the mountain, straining my eyes, seeking that goal, and then somehow always missing it and landing, instead, in the desert. The place I end up is always scorched, filled with brambles and thorns, crawling with hungry predators and laid with mazes of random pits and traps.

My prayer life is suffering. I have not been taking the time I need for my heart to rest in Him, and even as I make room for these words, my heart aches for quiet time with My Lord. I sit here among the chaos of late afternoon with my children, waiting for My Darling to come home, though his arrival is literally hours away. I so desperately need a retreat, a true, honest, actual retreat. I need time to reflect, to read, to journal, and to be filled again with His sweet Spirit. The times between Mass and Mass seem to stretch me so thin that I begin to see through myself and wonder who that poor pallid and thin woman is.

The thing is, I know this journey. I've been on it before--I know it so well, I drew the map. I know that this, too, shall pass. And I am clinging to My Lord in faith that He is walking with me through the valley. I know that He walked the valley before I did, suffering the temptations and fears and lonely lengths of road. I know that He created the valley, and that one day I will find the pasture that I can see from the mountain top. I don't want the excitement of the mountain top......I'd afraid of heights, so the mountain top is never that much of a thrill for me anyway. It's windy up there, and you have to balance just so in order to keep from toppling head over heels to the bottom. I much prefer the solace of the verdant plains, with the sweet woods, gentle breezes, soft grasses, and the company of His fold.

Rats. I don't like this place, and I'd covet your prayers to get the heck out of it. While we're at it, please keep in your prayers AJ and Sarah (and Pip!), little Zelie, Charlie, Rebekah, JP, my Grandma, Ray, Chris, Andy, Veronica, and all the others whose names He already knows.......

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A different animal

I must confess, I tend to scoff when anyone suggests treating boys and girls the same. The fact of the matter is, they are not the same, and it's just plain silly to pretend otherwise. They are not the same physically, emotionally, mentally, or any other -ally, for Pete's sake.

Case in point: The shower.

Take one:
Frog: Mom, may I please go take a shower?
Me: Didn't you just take one last night?
Frog: Well yeah, but I kind of feel gross. Please?
Me: OK, but don't use all the the hot water, and remember to use the timer.
Frog: Yes, Mom.

30 minutes pass, during which we hear the whirring of the exhaust fan, the running of the water, and the tell-tale splooshes as the Frog rinses her hair. Eventually the Frog emerges from the sauna bathroom, accompanied by a cloud of steam to rival the great cloud which led Moses and the Israelites in the desert by day. She has neatly hung her damp towel on the bar, and trots her dirty clothing up to the hamper. The aroma of floral-y soap wafts through the household, and the Frog fairly glows for having been thoroughly scrubbed. Her hair gleams under a coating of conditioner, and all is right with the world. Of course, we'll have to wait a week for the hot water to replenish in the tank, but that's completely beside the point. The Frog is clean.

Take two:
My nose wrinkles as the Pickle passes by, living up to his briny nickname.
Me: Pickle, go take a shower.
Pickle: I just took one.
Me: When?
Pickle: Uh...............(he thinks, but can't recall.)
Me: Pickle, go take a shower.
Pickle: Yes, Mom.

(Don't let the similarity fool you. In this house, the manners are required. Keep reading.)

5 minutes pass, during which we've heard the toilet flush twice, the shower drip a few times, and a little bit of singing. The Pickle emerges wearing the same clothing he wore into the bathroom. His hair is still completely dry. I can't identify any particular towel as having been used, and the fan has not been employed.

Me: What part did you wash?
Pickle: Huh? (Accompanied, of course, by the typical blank stare of a 12-year-old boy when asked a common sense question about an every-day activity having anything to do with personal hygiene.)
Me: Did you wash your hair?
Pickle: My hair? (As though he is suddenly surprised to learn what that fluffy stuff atop his head is called.)
Me: What about your pits?
Pickle: silence, and again with the confused stare....
Me: Pickle, go up to the closet and bring down with you clean underwear, clean pants, a clean shirt and a clean pair of socks.
Pickle: Yes, mom.

10 minutes pass, during which I hear dawdling footsteps, assume something shiny has attracted my boy's eye and completely distracted him, and eventually he comes back with the required articles of clothing. They are not too-badly rumpled, and since I can't smell them from 5 feet away, they must be reasonably clean. I'm not sure I can see socks in his hands, but that's just a minor detail.

Me: Pickle, go into the bathroom and turn on the hot water. Remove your clothing. Stand under the water. Get your entire body wet, including your hair. Use shampoo on your hair. Scrub your whole head. Stand under the water and rinse all of the soap from your hair. Use the bar of soap on your entire body, especially your pits, your crack, and your front. Rinse all of the soap from those places or you will itch horribly. Stand under the water for a little bit longer to make sure that all of the soap is gone. Do you have any questions?
Pickle: Nope.
Me: OK, then go take a shower.
Pickle: Yes, Mom.

10 minutes pass, during which we hear the fan turned on, the water turned on, and a great deal of singing. Eventually the Pickle emerges from the soggy bathroom, which now smells just a little funky--kind of like a middle school locker room...I can tell he must have used shampoo, because there's just a little bit of foam left in his right ear. I'm pretty sure he used soap, because I think I can kind of smell the Irish Spring, though it's been reduced to more of a Norwegian Trickle. His wet towel remains in a lump on the floor, and his dirty clothes are strewn from one end of the room to the other.

Me: Grab your towel and hang it up, please.
Pickle: Yes, Mom.

The towel is stuffed over the bar.

Me: Collect your dirty clothes and take them to the hamper, please.
Pickle: Yes, Mom.

The clothes are snagged and he shuffles up the stairs to the laundry room.

Yes, boys and girls are a little's a waste of time to try to figure out ways to treat them as though they are the same. You can give a girl a truck, but she's still a girl. She'll wrap it up in a blanket, give it milk, read it a story, rock it to sleep and put it to bed. You can give a boy a doll, but he's a boy. He'll remove it's arms and legs, and after he's done shooting dinosaurs with them, he'll set them up at one end of the room, bowl them over with the head, and boogie when he gets a strike. Then he'll toss the torso around like a football, and pump his little fist in the air when he manages to catch it.

I love seeing the differences between my sons and my daughters. I thank God for their uniqueness, for the many blessings they bring to our family, and for the gifts and challenges that raising boys and girls has brought to me as their mother.