Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Wild Things Go Shopping

The night that we ran out of coffee cream and needed groceries of one kind 
and another,
I called the three, “LET’S GO!”
and the middle one said “I’LL EAT YOU UP!”
but I took them to the store without hearing anything.
That very night the two year old threw a fit that grew
and grew-
and grew until she threw herself on the floor beneath the bananas, 
as the entire store was watching all around
and I tumbled by with the baby in my arms and a cart full of groceries,
and we walked off through the produce and the dairy
and in and out of aisles and almost over the entire store
while the wild thing just sat there.
And then we paid for our groceries and came back to the place where the wild thing was, and she roared her terrible roars and gnashed her terrible teeth and I rolled my terrible eyes and she showed us her  terrible claws and I said “BE STILL!”
and tried the trick of staring into her eyes without blinking once (while gritting my teeth so she would know how serious I was) but she wasn’t even frightened and the little amish girls in the store hid behind their mothers and called her the most wild thing of all.
“And now,” I said, “We're going to the car!” and walked with the other two out of the store
but  Annie the king of all wild things wouldn’t budge.
And the oldest of the wild things was lonely and said she wasn’t leaving without her sister!
Then all around from far away across the parking lot her cries could still be heard, for she wouldn’t come out of the store.
And we all cried, “Oh Annie please let’s go-”
And she said, “No!”
And I wanted to roar my terrible roars and gnash my terrible teeth
but instead I put the baby in her carseat and said "I’ll be right back",
and walked back inside and down the produce aisle
and through all of the people staring
and picked the wild thing up and carried her to the car

and she was still shouting.

(from Where The Wild Things Are )

Thursday, June 24, 2010

the end of a summer day

It's the end of a summer day.  The day after the longest day of the year, already beginning that slow descent and I can't help but be a little sad about it.  Summer!- just arrived yesterday and today it is already beginning to end . . . and this anxiety begins to rise in me, like it always does, this ever-present feeling that there isn’t enough time . . . the rush of days, this slippery beauty, it’s all passing so quickly and there is so much to do and there just isn’t time.

I have this ache in my back and I am irrational and imagine that it’s cancer, wrapped around my spine and i’ve only a few months to live . . . God I hope not . . . God I love living . . .

there is so much living to be done

and there was a small earthquake just a few minutes ago, so i hear . . . and what if this is the end . . . or what if i have a hundred years . . . how will i spend this afternoon?  This one hour of quiet while everyone is sleeping?  The answer leaves me equally anxious because either way there just isn’t enough time . . . I hope that the answer would be the same, that either way I'd spend this moment and the rest of today doing the same thing that i am now doing.

Lord there are many things I would like to do, need to do, wish i could do.  help me to choose the best things . . . this is my constant prayer.

I wish I could read more and sew something ruffled and make my own yogurt and be a farmer .. . I want to paint something orange and bake something chocolate and write a poem about the way she rolls her eyes . . . and there are so many books left to read and places left to go and fascinating people I still need to get to know and old familiar fascinating friends I need more time to soak in . . .

Life is too short for a lot of things. . . . life is too short to go to the mall.  It’s too short to dress the baby up with all those snaps when I'll only have to change her again (all summer she is wearing only a t-shirt and her cloth diaper, and she is beautiful) . . . life is too short to keep my house perfectly clean, (though I am working on finding the balance on this one; my temper blows and my back is turned to my children all too frequently as i clean one mess and then another) . . . life is too short for grudges, too short for worry, too short to wonder what she might be thinking, too short for television, too short to spend not with my children or wishing i weren’t . . . life is too short to try to please people, too short to eat too much or bad things or to be unhealthy, and too short to worry too much about it.  

Life is too short for many things, but too precious too, for a lot of things not to do them. . .

It’s too precious not to plant a garden, so we can watch the miracles explode from the dirt; too precious not to put-up a clothesline so we can wear the sunshine; too precious not to paint our toenails pink like little flags from the Country of Happy.  It’s too precious not to stop instantly and laugh, not to kiss the cheeks, not to check-out stacks of books from the library that I’ll never have time to finish.  

Life is hard, but it's amazing too, and I love it.  Really, I do.  Even when everybody is whining and the house is a mess and at any given moment at least two kids are crying for me . . . even when I’m crabby and in a huff and when i just want to be left alone . . . even then at the end of the day (which never comes soon enough) I sit back exhausted and wonder why I still wish I could have a hundred babies; why I wish I didn’t need to sleep so I could just keep living and doing and be wide awake to all this beauty, all these possibilities, all this life.

I love life, and I love knowing that it’s only a mirror, only a taste of the glory in Heaven . . . God every last bite of this life, these good things, are from you and for you and because of your Son who gives us all things so lavishly to enjoy . . . God it’s all praise to you . . . God it will take me this whole life and eternity to marvel at it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I write because I cannot speak

Sometimes my words just complicate things.
They unravel, they twist and knot in ways I didn't intend
or fall flat, misunderstood,
and there is nothing I can do about the mess.
I wish that conversations could carry links on words like our blogs do . . .
just pause, and click to get the backstory,
what I am trying to say . . .

I am noticing lately the power of grace;
and especially the way that it comes to us riding on things,
into places where words can't reach.

Baby's laugh
A sweaty walk
Little heads on my shoulders while we read books
A candle set in just the right spot
My mom's Iced Tea
Blooming flowerbeds
Yard Sale finds
Football making broken hearts dance

There is so much grace everywhere.

And so,
not knowing what to say . . .
afraid of saying it wrong . . . again . . .
I find myself praying, as I work, for the grace
to give grace . . .
that my work be grace, if my words cannot

Make this clean house be grace for our guests. . .
Let the sheets . . . our best mattress . . . a good night's sleep . . . be grace
God make the asparagus grace
the grill
the swingset
the books on the nightstand
I shop for groceries and ask for my cart to be filled with grace
Lord let our home be grace
Let the day be grace . . .
safety, rest
life-giving, soul-healing,

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Holiness isn't white, it's green.

So much emphasis in my spiritual formation has been on being "set apart" from the world . . . we love words like pure, righteous, sanctified . . . and I don't think it was intended, but the impression was given of being somehow more than human . . . a white that can't be touched and that doesn't get it's hands dirty . . . the kind of impossible white that only exists in toothpaste ads but you'd never find in real life . . .

. . . and maybe it is our pursuit of white-ness,  that keeps the church so disconnected with the world . . . not just set-apart: absent.

. . . the world has no need for our holiness, our whiteness . . .

because white is busy taking great care of itself.

Green is rooted in the dirt; unglamorous, messy 
living, growing, giving . .. 
twisting, breathing, unfolding . . . 
making room, reaching out, 
pointing up.

Green breathes and touches and feels and needs.

Green is fearless and hopeful and joyfully alive.

Those of us who spend our lives pursuing white are dormant.
We are introspective and worried.
We feel guilty a lot.
We sense a need to define things, and so we label it ministry, calling, service.

Green is not conscious of itself at all.  Green just grows.
    and gives.

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they simply are! Think of the sea, the air, the sun, the stars and the moon - all these are, and what a ministration they exert. So often we mar God's designed influence through us by our self-conscious effort to be consistent and useful. . . . .
The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like the stars in heaven and the lilies in the field, perfectly simply and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mould us.
If you want to be of use to God, get rightly related to Jesus Christ and He will make you of use unconsciously every minute you live.    -Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 18

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mom of the Year

mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom and there is a kink in my neck that won't go away.

I've felt it, I know it's there, but I keep telling myself I'm doing a pretty good job at hiding it, didn't realize that I am wearing it all over me . . . until yesterday . . .

Sam was snapping pictures and in the afternoon between feeding the baby, putting Annie back down for her nap, sending Sami to her room, again, . . . and then repeating the process about fifty times . . . I downloaded the pictures and was horrified to see the one she took of me . . . I've considered posting it, but I'm not sure I'm that brave . . .

I am finding it very necessary to catch my breath these days.  Because when I don't, this is what happens: (okay, here it is) . . .

Really?  Is this REALLY how my kids see me every day?!  A perpetually irritated expression?!   This is the It's Summer I Want Everything mom?  The "embrace life, laugh-out-loud" mom?   Wouldn't every child like to see this face all day?  And what husband wouldn't want to come home to THIS! (actually by six o'clock the face is even better!)

I know what I was thinking . .  . Can't you go two seconds without needing me?  Or, if you spill one more thing I am going to lose my mind!  Or, Why are you naked again?  Or . . .

And the thing is, it's not how I feel, not deep down . . .  my frustration and irritation ride on the surface, and it slips and sloshes but underneath it all there's this joy, this gratitude and wonder at the gift of raising children . . . I wish my kids were seeing more of the deeper me and less of the worn-out me on top.

After our third baby my doctor wrote me a prescription for three hours of alone time per week, non-negotiable.  She made me promise her I'd take it, every week, for the next twenty-five years she said.

When I think back I can see times when what I needed more than anything was to step away from the crowd and get alone, to think and pray, but I avoided solitude, refused to find it, and the results weren't good. And now in this season, I feel the call to get alone but once again it is so hard to set things down and walk away.

This morning I fed the baby and walked out the door, alone.  I spent 3.50 on a cup of tea (thinking I could have bought a whole box for that . . . and with a coupon . . . and if I went here . . . )   I have a to-do list beside me and there are a thousand ways that I could be spending this time but I am choosing rest, and solitude, and unhurried reading and a little writing because that is what I love . . . and I am hoping that when I return home the other me will have returned, too.

"Silent solitude makes true speech possible and personal. If I am not in touch with my own belovedness, then I cannot touch the sacredness of others. If I am estranged from myself, I am likewise a stranger to others."   — Brennan Manning (Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging)

Friday, June 11, 2010

quick takes

Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary 

I took the girls this week with our friends Anna and Izaak to the McKinley Museum and Science Center.   I was really impressed with it, very interactive and great for even very young kids, and so close to home!  There is a great planetarium, with daily shows which we didn't realize until too late are for kids five and older . .. so we drug all of the kids in and then it got dark and quiet and Annie kept asking why it's so dark, and Sam wanted to know when it would be over, and their voices did very little to drown out the sound of Josie breastfeeding in the silence . . . nice.  (Now I can add Planetarium to the list of places where I've fed a baby).  I don't think anyone in the crowd minded that we left before the show was over.

My brother Coby is moving to L.A. to live with my other brother Joe for a while.  We're all sad to see Coby leave . . .  he's everybody's favorite sibling, probably because he's the baby of the family, but also because he's just good, and not so loud or opinionated as the rest of us . . .  everyone should have a friend or brother around like Coby . . . kind, subtle, artsy, easy-going, and willing to help you move fifty times.

This week we tried this steak salad but I added blue cheese, with the fresh citrus vinaigrette as recommended by one of the reviewers.  It was a great summertime meal.

I ran out of face soap and haven't been wanting to pay for the expensive stuff I usually use (I really like Origins ).  So after reading Megan's review of washing with oil,  I tried it and have been using olive oil to wash my face at night for about two weeks.  I actually really like it, it feels thick and a little gross going on, but washes off fine and feels great after.  I like that it's a natural product but so much cheaper than the face wash I'd been using.

I've been reading Last Child in the Woods.  There is so much good to say about it, but it really deserves it's own post.  I am making a very conscious effort to keep everybody outside this summer as much as possible.

Book 15 this year was The Unaccustomed Earth , a collection of stories by Jhumpa Lahiri.   I read it for the bookclub I am a part of, but didn't get to attend this month and missed the discussion.   I did really enjoy the short stories, on the theme of Bengali families in America and the various challenges and gaps between parents and children, and within marriages.

I read these two articles this week on technology overload:  Your Brain on Computers and The Risks of Parenting While Plugged-In.   

Maybe I am feeling guilty, because this seems to be a theme for me this week.  I do try to not be on the computer when the kids are awake, but feeling like I need to limit my time even more . . . and when I do have time I need to have specific goals or I can just waste so much time clicking from one thing to the next . .. there are so many great things to learn on the internet, but it scares me what all of this technology is doing to our brains and relationships, and how addictive it is. . . . It's 8:00, kids are awake, and I'm turning my computer off now . . . happy Friday, it's going to be a another beautiful day here today!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Rules of Summer

I love the idea of creating a Summer List .  Here's the one hanging on our refrigerator:

  • Declare a ban against shoes
  • Tend our garden
  • Make salsa and jam and stack it on shelves in protest to winter
  • Have a summer solstice party
  • Fix groovy backyard suppers
  • Observe nature, collect rocks and bugs and leaves, set-up a nature table where we can identify them.
  • Wear sundresses and paint our toenails bright pink, because it makes my girls very happy
  • Add stargazing to the bedtime routine
  • Watch fireworks, play corn hole and eat potato salad
  • Have picnics 
  • Swim our hearts out
  • Marathon play dates
  • Keep our beach bag beside the door
  • Eat popsicles like they're going out of style 
  • Host a Barefoot Backyard BBQ with friends
  • Wear-out our zoo/museum pass 
  • grow something wild and unruly
  • Visit old friends
  • Attend a few free movies at the Regal 
  • Sit on the deck.  Just sit.
  • Read.  A lot.
  • Sangria
  • Take the kids to a drive-in movie
  • Wake up too early and stay up too late, because summer will go by too fast and I don't want to miss a thing

Friday, June 4, 2010

Quick Takes: Love

Quick Takes is hosted at Conversion Diary 

Is anyone else absolutely ecstatic that summer has arrived!?  
We've been tending our garden, planting flowers, eating funky vegetables . .. 
love, love, love it!
I am working on our own  Summer List which I will post soon!

You know what else I love?  I love this girl . ..

I love her little head in my neck and I love her milk breath and I love nursing her under a beach towel and both of us sweaty and warm and happy.  
I love the way she puts her little fists to her face and I just know she did that in the womb and I love that she is so full of smiles and the way she lights up when I talk to her, and how she coos all the time like she's really telling me something and I try to listen really hard because I'm pretty sure she's letting me in on those secrets that only babies remember.

And I love this girl . . .

because she drives me crazy with her temper and her stubborn and when she walks into a room every cup spills itself . .. and I love her for the way she stomps and the faces she makes when she's angry and then the three hour naps she takes and when she wakes up she says I was mad at you but now I'm happy, and I say I know how you feel Annie.  And every morning when I ask her if she wants breakfast she says NO, CHOCOLATE! I say I know how you feel and I love that she must experience everything by tasting it and pouring it and sitting in it and I tell myself it's her creative and me too and try to suffer it gladly.

And I love this girl . . .

and her funky style and her sweet.  I love how responsible she is and the way she loves to help, and I love her smart and her giant vocabulary and her giant need for affection.  I love how eager she is, the way she runs everywhere because she's so excited about living.


And I love this guy who studied like crazy the past year for his P.E. exam, and we just found out last night that he PASSED! (even after being out of the profession for ten years, and was so sure he wouldn't) and he's now a Professional Engineer with a stamp and the initials and a swagger
(though he didn't believe the email and had to call to be sure because he's so darn optimistic).


And I love my fun friends, and dropping everything to go swimming, (because summer is too short to keep your house clean), and being spontaneous, and sleeping in the sun.
And I love weekends away, and crazy thunderstorms and waking up really early and staying up too late when Seth and Sally are in town.  


And I love that life is warm and juicy and good even when it's a little bit cold around the edges; so green and lovely even when I am a little bit blue; that I can be happy and falling down with gratitude, even if a little bit hurts sometimes and I don't know why.