Date Night with my Daughter

Last night my oldest daughter and I had an impromptu “date night.”

Over the past month, she read all of The Hunger Games Books (she’s 11, almost 12.) I waffled back and forth over whether or not she was “old enough” to read them, but I finally decided to let her go ahead. I read them and loved all them – I think it took me about a week to finish all three (the first one I devoured in about 24 hours.)

Anyway, her dad got the first 3 movies for her and they had a little movie marathon over the weekend, much to the dismay of my other children – I’m somewhat adamant concerning my “read the book before you watch the movie” stance.

So last night, he took over dinner and bedtime duties and sent the two of us out on a Mockingjay Date. As we drove to the theater, I explained to her that this was a big honor for her, since usually if a movie is one I really want to see, I go by myself. That way I don’t have to worry about anyone talking, asking questions or ahem, or making fun of (I’m talking to you, dear husband) the story lines, plots, special effects, etc.

She replied with, “Tell me about it! Dad talked through all three movies because he didn’t know what was going on! I had to explain everything!” I cast a sidelong glance her way. “You know why?” Simultaneously, we said, “Because HE didn’t read the books!” Then we laughed. It’s nice to share a love of reading with my girl, who is growing up at a somewhat exponential rate of speed.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t know how to talk to her anymore and it scares me. I know she’s my same little girl in there, but she looks (and acts) so mature. She “gets” things – jokes and puns and metaphors – that a couple of years ago I would’ve had to explain to her. Heck, she “gets” more things than I do these days.

We only whispered necessary information to each other (like “What happened when I was gone to the bathroom?”) and she was a perfect “important movie” companion.

My favorite moviespart of the entire night was when she reached over to hold my hand during one of the scary parts (she knew it was coming – I’d forgotten all about it.) Later she put her head on my shoulder. Snuggling with this one is a rare occurrence… she’s got it in her head that she’s a loner, but I suspect otherwise.

On the way home, we stopped for a milkshake. She’s a Mint Chocolate Chip and Oreo kind of girl. We talked about the movie and the story line in general. We talked about possible meanings and themes and applications in our lives today. I tried to listen more than I talked. She’s such an interesting little person.

Well, not so little. She’s almost as tall as me. She’s strong, she’s thoughtful, she’s helpful, she’s kind, she’s so smart and reflective. I’m so proud that she’s mine… and that she’s her own person, too.

I have to remind myself to enjoy these moments more instead of worrying that they are going by too fast. Sometimes I ruin them by overthinking it. Live in the moment, right? Seize the day!

And also, when your almost-teenage daughter offers to hold your hand and snuggle with you, especially in public, seize that too.

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Passover and Butter Sheep

We aren’t Jewish.

But we did celebrate Passover this year.

I’ve always been interested in Jewish festivals and how, for Christians, the New Testament fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament. A few weeks ago I went to a class about the seven major feasts of ancient Israel. Does it sound dry and boring? Well, it wasn’t – it was fascinating!

We learned some ways to incorporate parts of these ancient feasts at home – I was super excited to try the bits and pieces that would work for our family. It just so happened that this particular Passover was on the same night as the Blood Moon. Since it was also the first time we’d ever done anything like this at home, the whole idea seemed very special.Image

As we got all of the food together (traditionally, every part of the meal has its own symbolic meaning) and spread a special tablecloth on the table, there was a definite air of excitement in our house. We read the story in Exodus – it says that “you should eat with your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste.” We all felt like we should be in a hurry!

And hurry we did.

Sadie, 10, pulled down all the shades (because we weren’t supposed to look out the window), turned off all the lights, and lit lots of candles.

Josie, who is 8, said she had goose-bumps on her arms and butterflies in her tummy. She collected robes and “staffs” for everyone (since we had a shortage of staffs, we ended up using our marshmallow-roasting sticks from the firepit.) 

Adelaide, my 5-year-old, painted a picture for decoration. She also ran around and set the table with real plates and silverware.

Then the girls and their 3-year-old brother, Jed, tried to sweep out every single bit of dirt from the kitchen floor. “This is impossible!” one of them said. “Exactly!” I told them, and then we talked about how the bad things in our lives can be like dirt.  We can try and try to get rid of it all, but it’s just impossible. That’s why we need a savior. Sigh. I love when things come together like that.  

Each child chose three favorite things that they would take with them if they had to leave home in a hurry – stuff they couldn’t bear to leave behind in “Egypt.”

Sadie chose her Snoopy, her favorite book – The Penderwicks, and her old, falling-apart quilt. Josie brought her Bear-Bear, her Wolfie, and her stuffed pink lamb. She used her Crunchy Blanket as a belt for her robe so she was able to sneak in a freebie. Adelaide chose two little stuffed doggies and a little red and white bear that Sadie gave her. Jed brought his stuffed Dino, his Mousie, and his fuzzy blanket.

If I were going to choose, I would need a wheelbarrow so I could take all of my scrapbooks with me.

Finally, the meal was ready (and no, I didn’t try to make lamb on my own – I bought gyro meat – this IS my first year, after all!). I did try to stick with what it says in Exodus, though, so we had lamb, horseradish, green onions (bitter herbs), and unleavened bread. We also had other “Bible foods” like olives, dried fruit, and almonds.

Their dad said a prayer and symbolically “killed” our butter sheep (by chopping its head off with a butter knife) and then we put red crepe paper around our doorframe outside.  I know, I know… our neighbors are gonna think we are so weird!) Then we talked some more about the story of Passover – the wicked Pharoah, the horrible plagues, the sorrow of slavery – and the joy of freedom.

To top off the night, the kids watched the movie The Prince of Egypt.

The kids liked the lamb okay – they liked the unleavened bread better, though. And they loved the movie.

And me? Well, what I liked best was bringing the meaning of the Easter season a lot closer to home.

 

Funnies vs. The Never-ending Winter

To battle my “woe-is-me-ness” brought about by The Never-ending Winter, this week I’ve compiled some of the funny (and random) things my children have said recently. It’s a good thing they’re here to lighten my mood.

 

Sadie to her sister Josie, after watching her eat a burrito: “You disgust me.”

 

Josie at the pet store: “I think I want a chinchilla. Or one of those hot dogs.”

 

Jed: “If I had a baby goat, I would name him Weasel.”

 

Adelaide at the Mexican restaurant: “Oh, I’m not doing anything. Just puttin’ cheese dip upon my beans.”

 

Jed, after giving his dad a Rice Krispy treat: “Here Dad, I didn’t even lick it.”

 

Adelaide: “My legs are going to eat you. They are very hungry.”

 

Sadie, after seeing a Christmas tree still up in March: “Wow! Look at that! Those people must really love God!”

 

Sadie, smelling a stink while we were on the road: “Hey! No poopages allowed in this car!” Jed: “Oh yes there is! Adelaide and Josie!”

 

Jed: “I just not like potatoes very far.”

 

Adelaide on St. Patrick’s Day, after hearing something rummaging through our trash can: “Maybe it’s a leprecoon.”

 

Aunt Sharon, coughing: “I have something in my throat!” Jed: “Is it a bug?”

 

Adelaide: “Jed got a blue race car that goes by itself! It’s a commode control!”  

 

Sadie, confusing her love of jewelry with her love of Christmas songs: “Over the hills we go, laughing all the way… bells on cocktail rings…”

 

Adelaide: “I have a surprise for you!” Josie: “Maybe it’s another me!” Sadie: “That’s one thing I don’t want!” Jed, out of the blue: “Maybe it a penis!”

 

Jed: “Mommy, I grow up?” Me: “Yep, you’re a little boy but you will grow into a man, like Dad.

Do you want to be like Dad when you grow up? Or Papaw, or Grandpa, or Pop-Pop?” Jed: “Nope. I want to be like Jed.”

 

Me: “Sadie, what are you eating? Candy?” Sadie, dramatically: “It’s not just chocolate, Mother – it’s Turkish Delight!”

 

After singing the Oscar Meyer Weiner song, Adelaide ended with the refrain: “Everyone would be in love with me!” Jed: “No! Not wif you, Adelaide!”

 

Josie, after I told her I would pay her to rub my sore shoulder: “Well, it only costs a quarter. That’s a pretty good deal. Yeah, I used to sell hearts for a living, red ones that I cut out of paper. But that didn’t turn out so well. I sold one to you, one to Dad, one to Grandpa, and one to Aunt Lydia. I made a dollar, but you can’t live forever on a dollar. I guess I should probably move on to the next thing.” 

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Has anyone seen Spring?

Double Digits

Double digits.

My daughter, my Sadie (Sadaroo, as she’s sometimes known as affectionately around here) is going to be double digits this month. TEN.

I can hardly believe it.

My baby, my first real-life-honest-to-goodness-miracle, the sweet little blessing from God who gave me the enormous gift of being a mom – TEN.

It seems like yesterday that my husband and I were speeding down the highway toward the hospital in North Carolina on a bright, cool March morning, talking about how when we next traveled that road the entire world would be forever changed.

And now, a decade later, here we are. I’ve been a mommy for ten years. It’s been many things – days of amazing amazement and other days of awful awfulness. It’s been a roller-coaster of joy and fear and breathlessness and bittersweet, heart-wrenching beauty.

That chubby-cheeked baby girl is now a long, lanky, smart, kind-hearted, precious, spunky, amazing girl. She has a creative spirit, a great belly laugh, a thirst for knowledge, and the cutest little nose-crinkling, eye-scrunching grin ever. My, how she has grown.

And I think I’ve been growing up right along with her.

Being a mom has done crazy things to me. I’m simultaneously the most selfish and the most unselfish person in the world. I’m terrified in some ways, yet in other ways I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. Before Sadie, I didn’t know how deeply I could feel or how much I could love or how much I could handle. I had no idea what it was to love sacrificially.

I’ve worried myself into oblivion. I’ve learned that sometimes, the only thing I can do is pray – and I’ve prayed more in the past ten years than in the other 27 years of my life combined. I pray for help, for patience, for her safety, for her healing, for her future, for her feelings, for her heart and her decisions and her happiness and her relationships.

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My Sadaroo

And I’ve wasted time that I could’ve spent with her. When I think about this, I get a lump in my throat and have a bit of a mini-panic attack. She’s TEN. How much time do I have left with her now? 8 more years at home? 8 more years of her in her fuzzy robe, reading on her top bunk? 8 more years of “Coming, Mom!” and “Got it!” and “Have you seen my Snoopy?” and “How do ya catch a candy cane” songs? How many times have I gone to tuck her in and she’s already asleep so I’ve missed out on holding her hand to say prayers or to sing her special bedtime song?

She is so wonderful. But sometimes I wonder, how present am I really in her life?

I have so many doubts and fears about doing the right things for her and teaching her all she needs to know. I want for her to be able to make a living when she grows up, but I’m more concerned that she has a LIFE. That she’s HAPPY. Have I been training her for that for the past ten years? For happiness? I’m not sure – I’ve never been too good at it myself, honestly. Every day, I struggle with myself. I want to see her through the eyes of my heart instead of with my controlling, micro-managing brain. I can’t expect her to be perfect. I’m certainly not. Will perfect handwriting on that homeschool assignment really make her a better person? Will a spotless bedroom and perfectly folded clothes help her to one day be HAPPY?

I have to remember that every step she takes away from me is a step toward the life that God has planned for her. I have to remember to hold her hand, yet not hold her back.

For me, it’s a difficult (and emotional) distinction to make.

I admit it – I don’t want to let her go. I scrapbook because I have to hold on to how she was! I write because I don’t want to forget how she is right this minute. I want to be able to recall exactly how my life has been with this little person. My (not so) little girl.

My Sadie. My love. My blessing. My dancing, twirling, leaping, butterfly-chasing, sunbeam of a child.

I’ve loved you for ten years (plus all of the nine months before we met – and maybe even before that, back when you were just a someday-dream in my heart.)

So much about you (and me) has changed since that life-altering, purpose-giving, direction-changing day all those years ago. And one thing is sure: things are just going to keep on changing. For both of us.

But my beautiful, wonderful, first child – you can be certain that one thing never will: my love for you.

We Have Seen It! It’s Coming!

Today it was over 40 degrees.

Now, 40 degrees really isn’t that warm, but when you compare it to the single digits we are used to having, it’s virtually a heat wave!

Like most of the country, we are suffering from a common ailment called “Sick Of Snow-itis.”

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What’s that I see?

My kids (minus Josie, who was busy at a Special Grammie Sleepover) and I were so excited to see the blue sky and the sun that we went outside with no coats and no hats and tried to drink in the Vitamin D through our bare arms and heads.

Then one of my children (I won’t name names) thought it would be a good idea to take off her boots and walk around on the sun-warmed pavement in her socks. I informed her that no, it was not a good idea.

Since no one in Northeast Ohio is ever really sure about the weather (Lake Erie turns Mother Nature into a highly unpredictable, crazed lunatic), you have to take advantage of the sun whenever you can. So we went to the park.

In the snow.

Well, some of it was melted.

What can I say? We were desperate.

We headed for the playground. It was wet and mushy, but we didn’t care. It wasn’t covered in two feet of snow, and that was a vast improvement. Adelaide scrambled up the top and yelled, “I am King of the Mountain! Well, actually, I am QUEEN of the PLAYGROUND!”

Jed stomped in snow. He stomped in puddles. He stomped in mud. He stomped in dog poop (my least favorite park-related hazard).  

Sadie spotted a turkey vulture in the sky (she’s been learning to identify birds by their airborne silhouettes) and she and Jed watched a falcon as it was hunting in the woods nearby. It was “BIG and PWETTY” according to Jed. He was very impressed.

Adelaide tracked a chipmunk to his little hidey-hole on the forest floor. She chased him down into his tunnel and we saw his “door” made out of bark.

We saw what appeared to be “wolf scratches” on a giant stump. We counted squirrels. We listened to the birds chirping from high up in the trees. We discovered some really cool leafy “ice fossils” that were formed when dead leaves sank down into the melting snow. Adelaide swung herself on the big swings (with no pushes from me!)

Yes, our little outing may have ended on a bad note involving a certain potty-trainee and some no-longer-usable Superman underwear, but we have seen the sun.

THE SUN.

It’s coming, people! And we just can’t wait.

Stuck in a Rut

We watched a lot of the Winter Olympics at our house.

One of my favorites was the Nordic Combined Ski Jump. You know, the giant terrifying mountain of snow that skiers hurtle down at breathtaking speeds? They go faster and faster and faster until all of a sudden they are at the bottom of the jump and then WHOOSH! Out they go. Launched into outer space with nothing under them but air, skis and hard-packed snow.

I noticed that their skis are locked into ruts until they get to the bottom of the hill. 

Hmmm. I suddenly realized that I have something in common with Olympians! No, it’s not the spandex bodysuits. And it’s definitely not the “fantastic athlete” part.   

It’s the rut part. Sometimes it seems like I’ve fallen into the world’s biggest rut.

I am constantly doing the same things over and over (and over) again. Wash the laundry. Dry the laundry. Fold the laundry. Change the sheets. Give the baths. Make the breakfast. Wash the breakfast dishes. Make the lunch. Wash the lunch dishes. Make the dinner. Wash the dinner dishes. Sweep the kitchen floor. Mop the kitchen floor. Let the dog out. Let the dog in. Change the diapers. You know how it is.

Life is going by faster and faster and there is absolutely nothing that I can do to stop it or control it. The gate has been lifted and I am GOING.

(Also, sometimes I feel like a guy in a cartoon that flies smack into a tree.)

I don’t know about you, but I live for the moments when I hit the end of those ruts and am propelled forward out into weightlessness. Those moments – when I twirl my children around in the air as we dance to “Circle of Life” or “Tiny Dancer,” cranked way up high. The spontaneous fits of laughter when someone says something funny, like “Do I need to go get my chop-chop?” Or making up our own song parodies – “If I die young, bury me in breakfast, lay me down on a bed of pancakes…”

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I think I got one!

Or a perfect moment full of nothing more than the sight and sound of a belly-laughing, front-toothless 5-year-old.

Or running through the cold February afternoon, chasing snowflakes with our mouths open and our tongues sticking out. Or when a little body hurtles through the air only to throw tiny warm arms around my neck and giggle slobbery kisses onto my cheek.

Those moments happen when I’m not rushing, when I’m not speeding around like a crazy person, trying to get everything done that needs to be done (and a lot of things that really don’t) – in other words, when I’m not in a rut.

I’m not an Olympian. Far from it.

But sometimes, like when we’re twirling around, it almost feels like I can fly.

Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Wolf?

There’s something about being woken up at 4am by a 3-year-old screaming “Help! HELP! It’s da BIG BAD WOLF!” as he runs into your bedroom that really gets your adrenalin flowing.

In hindsight, maybe The Three Little Pigs wasn’t the best bedtime reading for my little guy. I certainly didn’t mean to scare him. But then again, it’s not like my kids never scare me.

Most of the time they scare me without even trying:

They eat weird things. They pick things up off the floor (wherever we are) and pop them into their mouths.

They stick things up their noses. Peas. Pieces of fuzz. Pebbles. Cotton candy. Things of that nature.  

They run with sticks. They run with scissors. They run through parking lots.

They get high fevers. They get awful coughs. They get choked. They get pneumonia.

They go too close to the fire-pit. They hold sparklers too close to their faces.

They jump too high on the trampoline. They swing like they are aiming for outer space on Killer Death Swings.

They break collar bones. They get weird rashes. They fall flat on their faces and smack their teeth on the floor.

They accidentally poke each other in the eye with drinking straws.

They climb to the tip top of very tall, very wobbly pine trees.

They sled at high speeds. Backwards.

They sit too close to the edge of the lion enclosure at the zoo.

They go entirely too fast on anything that has wheels. And then they fall off –  usually on pavement or near some large, sharp rocks.

They are entirely too willing to explore ominous places in the woods (and turn over logs to pick up any creepy crawlies that they might find there.)

They disappear by the candy machine at the mall.

They twist their little arms behind their backs (Adelaide is double-jointed and can contort herself into some pretty freaky looking positions. When she was a baby her tiny thumb bent completely backwards and I thought it was broken, but pop! she moved it right back the way it was supposed to be.) 

They jump up and down in the wet, slippery bathtub.

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This is creepy. I don’t care if it is Cinderella.

They thump so loudly upstairs that I can hear them through the ceiling. They rattle the light fixtures. They fall out of bed. They hit their heads on the ceiling fan. They miss rungs on the bunk bed ladder and crash to the floor.

And then, sometimes, they do it on purpose:

They are entirely too convincing when they tell me that there’s a monster in their room. Just to be on the safe side, I usually close their door, lock it, and take them to my room where it’s clearly less dangerous. Their dad can deal with the monster later.

They hide behind doors just so they can jump out and yell “Boogity-boogity!” at me. They get me about 90% of the time.

And is there anything creepier than seeing the outline of a 3-foot tall, dark shadow with big eyes staring at you from the darkened hallway? Maybe one thing: waking up with a jolt to a face two inches from your own, STARING silently at you while you sleep.

Or they engage in psychological warfare by walking around completely draped in blankets (firmly ingrained ideas of what a ghost supposedly looks like die hard) or in uber-creepy Cinderella masks that show nothing but their creepy little eyeballs.

Once, 9-year-old Sadie stayed quiet and out of sight for 45 whole minutes, patiently waiting for me to get her little brother ready for bed, just so she could REACH OUT FROM UNDER HIS CRIB AND GRAB MY ANKLES. I am still not over it.

And 5-year-old Adelaide’s explanation of a bad dream she’d had: “Mommy, I dreamed that somebody died. I’m not telling who. But just stay in here. Seriously.”

So… who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Well, Jed is, for one.

And I may also be scared of him, though I will never admit that to Jed.

But honestly, I think my kids might be scarier.