Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer Things

Knowing this will probably be my last Summer of staying at home with the kids (I'm planning on going back to work in the Fall), I'm trying to pack in as much fun as I can.

This weekend we visited one of our sleepy little town's hidden gems - a small lake that does a great job simulating a real beach experience.

Although we've lived here for 4 years now, this was my first time taking the kids there and they had a blast! Although you couldn't tell from looking at this guy:

Mr Grumples at the beach. I want go home now! - he whined loudly and repeatedly.

Mr Sunshine at the beach - with his trunks on backwards, oh well.

Next on the SAHM Summer Bucket List - Going to the County Fair! We chose a really nasty hot day to go - hello sunburns! But we were all pretty pumped anyway as this would be our first time (and the first time in my ENTIRE life) going to the fair.

At the ticket counter - we could not be more excited!

First the spouse went on a ride with Judah and realized he now has "old person ride syndrome" where you get really nauseous on even the gentlest rides.

Whelp, his ride riding days are over.

And then I went on a ride with the kids and realized I too have "old person ride syndrome". Man, we're old.

Whelp, my ride riding days are over too!

Needless to say, the next few rides Judah just went on by himself. This kid used be afraid of everything (really, read my blog archives, like, literally the wind). So how the heck did he turn into the fearless kid going down the super slide by himself?! I don't even know this guy.

Judah finally does something that actually scares me!

The kids were most excited to do 2 things at the fair - eat cotton candy and go on the Ferris wheel. And so that is just what we did.

Sugary tufts of air - who invented this AMAZING THING?!

Although I've been to amusement parks a few times, this was indeed the very first time I've been on Mr. Ferris' ingenious invention. I was probably more excited than the kids.

They've only seen this giant wheel on books and would often talk about whether they would be brave enough to actually ride it. Even during the car ride to the fair Judah backed down several times and said - No! I'm too scared! I can't go on the Ferris wheel!

But with one parent sitting with each kid, they mounted the contraption serenely and we were all delighted to find this monstrous wheel was in fact as gentle as a lamb. Except for the spouse, who gripped onto Judah like a lifeline - apparently he is seriously afraid of heights, who knew?

A few seconds. A lifetime. A gift.

But for me, I relished the view from the top.

It all seemed like one giant metaphor that I have yet to figure out.
A kind of haiku for life:

Circles, turning
Breathtaking, Sky, Blue, Sun

Monday, June 20, 2016

Their Dad

For many years, I didn't quite appreciate the spouse's role as a parent.

The kids vastly preferred me and more or less ignored their father, or even saw him as an Oedipal competitor. Freud was really on to something!

Five years ago, when I sorta felt like a single parent.

When the kids were babies, the spouse would get exhausted with them after just a few minutes (it seemed to me). He would always say "this is just not my stage. I'll be a great parent when they're older!"

Well, now that Judah is almost 6, I'm seeing the truth in that more each day.

I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that they have such a good, good father.

The spouse is daily diligent to impart truth and wisdom to Judah. He has one-on-one time with Judah nearly every day and uses that time to talk about character, virtue, and eternal things. The stuff that really matters. The things that will shape the inner man.

Is there anything more essential?

But more than that, their father is the embodiment of unconditional love and support. If they express interest in something, their dad is always their number one supporter and encourager in that thing. A few weeks ago Judah saw ribbon-dancing in a Taylor Swift video and instantly connected with the beauty and artistry of it.

So what did the spouse do?

Despite having very little interest in the arts himself, he looked up a bunch of ribbon-dancing videos with Judah on You Tube. And the next day ordered some $2 ribbons for him from Amazon.

No judgement. No gender biases. Nothing but 100% support and encouragement.

Judah, age 1: holding a toy bus bought by dad, because Judah expressed interest in buses of course!

Judah (and Noah) is one lucky kid.

And, if his stated career goals work out, one awesome future ribbon-dancing ninja assassin.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Riding in the Car with Kids

This weekend was wedding central at our house.

The spouse's sister (the kid's much beloved auntie) was getting married and the whole family pitched in. I said a toast, the spouse officiated and the kids played tweedledum, the ring bearer, and tweedledee, the flower boy, to perfection.

The venue was an hour drive away so there was a lot of car time this weekend people. A lot of car time. 2 round-trips - one for the rehearsal and one for the actual wedding. Phew.

I never know what to expect from the kids when they're in the car longer than 20 minutes, so it

Trial by Fire Commute #1

The first time we did the commute, the kids watched a "Franklin the Turtle" DVD the entire way down. Judah, a TV-lover extraordinaire thought he had died and went to heaven. Noah, halfway through, started whining and fussing and begging (way too loudly) to get out of the car.

Alas we are at the stage where Noah can actually unbuckle himself and open the car door. Let's just say I have never felt so thankful for automatic car-door locks!

Commute #2

On the second commute, going back home, Noah was a total crank-en-stein, probably because he just had a long day of rehearsals and no nap.

He spent the first 10 minutes of the trip whining loudly about not having any pennies (apparently Judah had found some at the venue) and Noah had some too, but, as with all little objects in Noah's possession, soon lost them all.

The spouse spent a good deal of time digging around the car for change to appease El Dictator, but it seemed no matter how many coins he threw at the kids, the noise decibel level did not go down. can that be?

Because you can not negotiate with a terrorist people. They just crazy.

Just when I thought I was going to loose my mind from all the whining and crying, a miracle happened. Judah got in "appeasement" mode and decided he wanted to help his brother calm down.

I kid you not, when Judah puts on his "calm Noah down" hat, it's freaking magic. Judah IS the Noah Whisperer. Only he can reach across the divide and enter "crazy toddler" land, a place untouched by reason or logic, and tame that raging beast.

And that is just what he did for the rest of the 50 minute car trip.

God bless that boy.

He told Noah that his dull sad pennies were very special. They're Canadian pennies Noah! What? I didn't even know Judah knew there was a place called Canada. Amazing things they pick up in Kindergarten.

At one inspired point he told Noah to pretend to call his preschool friends on the phone and talk to them. And Judah, like some actor in an old-time variety show, deftly played the various roles of said friends - Lucas, Sophia, Jordan, etc.

In general, he continually flattered Noah and told him how cool he was and how great his stuff was. You know, what I imagine top North Korean officials do for the most part of their day for their Dear Leader.

I braced myself for when Judah would stop being so solicitous and Noah would resume his fussy whining, but it never happened. Judah tamed the beast the entire way and afterward said, Mommy, didn't I do a good job? But now I'm sooooo tired.

Yes my love, and now you know a little taste of EXACTLY how I've felt every minute of the day for, oh, just about the last 5+ years.

Commute #3

On our third commute down, I had no spouse to help me and no DVD players. Talk about living life on the edge!

The trip started out shakily, with Noah complaining (again, way too loudly) about something and me trying to distract them with a "game".

Let's play - What would you wish for if you had 3 wishes?

Judah: I want to go first!

Noah: No! Me! I go first!!!!

And since the scariest dude always gets his way, I let Noah go first.

Noah: I wish and Judah (mumble mumble mumble, I didn't hear him but pretended I did so as not to upset El Dictator). And my second wish is (mumble mumble mumble). And my third wish is for a new Paw Patrol toy!

Judah: My turn! First, I wish that I would always love God and believe Him (man, he's such a good pastor's kid). And second that I would always love my family. And third (something I forgot, but equally morally lofty).

Me: Wow Judah! Those are great wishes!

Noah: No! No! No! My wishes are stupid! I want to go again!

Noah, at this point has realized that his wishes must've seemed to worldly in light of Judah's elevated desires and now begins the cycle of shame and rage that spells doom for all citizenry of dictators everywhere.

Just as I was racking my brain for a good way to avoid the tsunami of anger and tears that were about to rain down on us (should I suggest playing a different game? should I start throwing out pandering compliments to Noah? should I suggest that Judah throw out some pandering compliments to Noah? should I pass the kids some gummy bears? think woman! think!) suddenly the storm abated. The dark clouds of Noah's displeasure dissipated on their own.


I can save the gummy bear bribes for later in our long day. WIN!

The rest of the trip passed in relative quiet as we drove along the quintessential landmark of Northern California landscapes - endless golden rolling hills, spotted with flecks of green treetops.

It stirred memories of my own childhood, staring out the car window for seemingly endless hours, marveling how the hills truly looked like gold shimmering in the bright sunlight.

So I shared the thoughts I had as a kid when I was in their exact place: Did you know a long time ago, explorers thought these hills were made out of actual gold? And they came from far away to get this gold only to discover that it was just dry grass after all! Can you imagine how disappointed they must have felt?

This, I knew, would unleash a bunch of questions from Judah and it was just the kind of information that tickled his noggin. I love this stage of his childhood.

And, as often is the case, he asks a darn good question that stumps me.

Judah: Mommy, why does the grass turn yellow when it dries up?

Me: You mean, as opposed to turning black? Or brown?

Judah: Yeah.

I told him I didn't know and thought I would try to help him think one step further.

Me: If we don't know the answer, how do you think we can find the answer?

Judah: (pause for thinking)...we can shrink down to miniature size and look at the grass?

Whelp, kid logic sure is a funny, fuzzy thing. I think he's referencing his favorite TV show at the moment, The Magic School Bus, in which all science questions inevitably lead to the shrinking of the school bus and students.

And because we are a spiritual family, I told Judah the thought that always comes to my mind when I look at dry grass - Judah, did you know the Bible says that we are like grass?

Here today and gone tomorrow. A mist. A vapor. A hundred-year-blink-of-an-eye.

Judah contemplated it receptively.

But El Dictator was displeased.

Shoot, I woke the dragon.

Noah: No! No! No! We are not grass Mommy!!!! Grass cannot talk! Grass cannot walk! Grass cannot eat!

Oh yeah, toddlers take everything literally. Ugh.

Thankfully, El Dictator was appeased by my vehemently agreeing with him - You're right Noah! We are not grass! That's so silly! Of course we're not grass! And gently distinguishing our meanings - I just mean we were a little tiny bit like grass. Just a little. But we are definitely not grass!

And soon, we arrived at our destination, not a minute too soon.

Commute #4

After the wedding, we packed into the car in happy moods. I knew El Dictator would be reasonably calm since he had a monster nap at the wedding, such is the exhaustion of walking down the aisle while sprinkling petals from a straw basket.

I finally gave them the reserve packs of gummy bears I had been saving for the entire day, hoping that would start us off on the right note. And things were fine for about the first 20 minutes.

Unfortunately the remainder of the trip was filled with this frantic chorus from both kids:

Mommy! I need to poo!
Mommy! Poo is coming out of my butt!
I'm trying to hold it in but it keeps coming out!
It's knocking on the door and I'm trying to lock the door but it's coming!
I'm putting 100 locks on the door!
Mommy, how long until we get home?!?! (uh, 40 minutes) No!!!! It has to be less than 10 minutes!
Mommy drive faster!!!!
Mommy, I farted. Fart is the start of pooping. (Noah's helpful observation).
Mommy, how much longer now?!?! (uh, 30 minutes) No!!!! That's too long!
(repeat ad nauseum)

I mentally prepared myself for poopy accidents all over the car and drove like a maniac. But the kids kept contracting their rectal sphincters like pros and I'm happy to report, it ended with a simultaneous pair of satisfying dumps at home in actual toilets.

Kids, never a dull car moment.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Mother's Day Gifts

It is 5 am in the morning.

The sun has just barely started its course in the sky.

I know I should go back to sleep.

I need the sleep. God KNOWS I need the sleep.

But it is, for once in my waking life, all quiet.

Undistractingly quiet.

And that is something I covet more than sleep.

Now that Noah's time in his old dysfunctional preschool has finally ended, he is with me 24-7. That's a lot of 3-year-old drama and constant stream of nonsense babbling.

All day long, if I'm not comforting a melt-down drama-king, I hear this:


Yes Noah?




What is it?





Mommy, what is your favorite...


Mommy, what is your favorite...

What?! Favorite WHAT?!

Mommy, I don't mean "what is your favorite Mommy". I just forgot what I was going to say.

I know, Noah.

Mommy, what is your favorite...
Mommy, what is your favorite...
kind of door?


Yeah, like is it a glass door?
Do you like glass doors?

Uh...yes. Yes I do (hoping this is the answer that will most quickly stop the noise coming out of his mouth)...



This. This kind of non-stop prattling is why I am just now blogging about Mother's Day!

Mother's Day was wonderful!

Maybe it's because I am now a seasoned pro at "Lowering Expectations" and "Treating Holidays Like Every Other Day" and "Being Happy With No Breaks", but really, it was lovely.

The pre-festivities started with Judah presenting me with these a couple days prior (he just COULD NOT hold it in, such was his excitement):

Translation: (1) Christina (2) 36 (3) hug (4) coral (5) bubble juice [he means seltzer] (6) bacon (7) noodles (8) lay down (9) play tickle fight (10) cooking (11) I say funny things (12) me!

My favorite part of this was (a) he got all the questions right! and (b) his answer to the last question "What my mom loves best is...ME"

I don't have a lot of parenting goals but at the top of the list is "make child feel loved."

BOOM! Achieved.

This is in contrast to another kid in Judah's class - that kid answered the last question with "Books."

Which made me really want to hang out with that kid's mom cuz I got mad respect for a mom of a little kid who can actually get that much reading done.

This little gem makes my heart happy every time I see it.

It's like the opposite of a beauty/celebrity magazine.

Every time I see one of those I see a fine sheen of perfection that I am falling way way way below and the message of contrasts is clear - you are not beautiful, you are not fit, you are not accomplished in any way that the magazine would deem worthy of an article, your weeknight meals are boring, and your closets are totally disorganized.

But Judah's little card of affirmation says I am beautiful! Thoughtful! A good cook! And best of all, loved!

The actual day of Mother's Day was also filled with unexpected delights.

Noah, who had given up napping for 5 months now, took a nap!!!!!

That translates to (a) an hour of peace for me and (b) a non-cranky guy to hang out with for the rest of the day. This is huge - the non-cranky part.

When Noah is a tired crank (which is usually for the last 3 hours of his non-nap day), everything pisses him off. EVERY. THING. And the opposite of that thing too.

And we got to do my favorite thing in the entire world - take a hike in the redwood forest - with two of the loveliest people on the planet and their adorable baby (my husband's cousin's family).

And they bought me flowers! I love flowers!

And, as if that wasn't enough, the piece de resistance was still to come.

A couple days before, Judah came home with a rock that he thought was pretty much equivalent in value to the Hope Diamond.

He said he traded a sparkly crayon AND a beaded bracelet for this object (most kindergarten trades only require one trinket at most) and even then, only got the rock after much cajoling.

All day he went on and on about the amazing properties of this rock.

It has flecks of "gold" on it!

It's heart-shaped!

Isn't it amazing Mommy?! Didn't I do a good trade?!

And on Mother's Day, he gave it to me. He hadn't planned on doing that. He just got caught up in the spirit of the day.

He is my festive, loving, and loving to gift-give son.

And I am a lucky, lucky mom.