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.

 

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.

Reading the “Hard Stuff”

I love a good movie.

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Sisters reading together

My kids do, too. They love marathon nights of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or any super hero movie that they are allowed to watch (they think Iron Man is hilarious. I’m pretty sure it’s because of his ridiculously sarcastic sense of humor – which happens to be exactly like their dad’s.)

But this post isn’t about movies.

In today’s fast-paced world (complete with amazing special effects), sometimes it might

seem like plain old black-and-white books are downright boring.

But they aren’t.

Every few years I re-read one of my favorites – Wuthering Heights,

Tess of the d’Urbervilles or Tom Sawyer. A couple of years ago, on a whim, I read part of Tom Sawyer to them. They adored him (now whenever someone tattles in our house, they get called Sid), so we followed it up with Huckleberry Finn. I’ve realized that they aren’t big fans of Bible story books – they’d rather hear the real thing from the New International or the King James versions. So now I’ve started reading “hard” literature to my little kids. We read other great books out loud, too – The Trumpet of the Swan, Stuart Little, Heidi, Charlotte’s Web, and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (my all-time favorite.)

We all have a lot to do – life is busy. Life is hectic. Life is hard.

But let me encourage you to take a few nights this week to read aloud to your family – it doesn’t matter how old they are. A story – a real story can bring your family together like nothing else can. Even if you read something that you think might be too hard for them, they might surprise you – last year we read The Odyssey. I hesitated to even start it – after all, it was The Odyssey, for Pete’s sake. And my oldest kid was 8 then! Much to my surprise, they loved it – the heroes, the adventures, the monsters, the battles – and they understood a lot more of it than I thought they would. What they didn’t understand turned into a great learning experience as we figured it out together.

Last week we finished reading a book called Sounder that won the 1970

Newbery Award. It’s a 44-year-old, dusty old paperback that has few chapters and fewer pictures. And consider yourself forewarned: don’t read it if you’re looking for something light-hearted and funny. But wow, did it tell a story.

No, it’s not a feel-good book – not at all. But let me tell you, when you have three little girls sitting spellbound at the kitchen table and all four of you have to put your heads in your hands and cry… well, THAT, my friend, is the power of the written word.

Reading a great book together is a shared experience of the mind and of the heart. Maybe you won’t remember all of the characters’ names or your favorite quote, but one thing is for sure:

You will never forget the way it made you feel – and

neither will your children.

An Ode: To Quiet Time

Some days just don’t go well. 

Today was one of those days. Let’s just say that THINGS WENT WRONG.

So I made up a song – to the tune of O Christmas Tree. I know it’s August (don’t ask.)

I’m not a professional songwriter, but this little ode to our mom-mandated afternoon “Quiet Time” came very easily today, let me tell you: Image

I cook breakfast most every day 

Toast, bacon, eggs and cheese

Then by the time I clean it up

They’re asking for a snack please
Orange juice and yogurt on the floor 

There’s gum stuck to the kitchen door
Oh Quiet Time, oh Quiet Time

Your hour is so inviting.

 

They dropped popcorn down in the couch

There’re kernels everywhere

Somebody left the scissors out

So someone cut their hair

They broke a lamp they slammed the door

Dropped eggs all over my clean floor

Oh Quiet Time, oh Quiet Time

I wait for you all day. 

They poked an eye and bruised an arm

And then they skinned a knee

They banged their head, they lost a tooth, 

They fell out of a tree
 The 2-year-old can’t help himself
Yanked every book down off the shelf

Oh Quiet Time, oh Quiet Time

When will you ever come? 

 

Pee in the hall and on the wall

This kid can’t seem to aim

The soup I tried to make for lunch

Has burst right into flames

The dog keeps barking off his head
 Someone is jumping on the bed

Oh Quiet Time, oh Quiet Time

Please get here if you can….

 They tracked in footprints made of mud

They spilled a vat of juice

Dumped glitter in the microwave 

And clomped around like moose

I’ll count my losses, close the door
 Collapse onto the bedroom floor
Oh Quiet Time, oh Quiet Time

Please give this mom a break!

 2:30 has finally come

I can’t believe it’s here

If there’s no fire or broken bones

You’d better disappear

Call me a bad mom, I don’t care

I’m ready to pull out my hair

Oh Quiet Time, oh Quiet Time

This hour is so inviting!

 

My nerves are fried, I need a nap

My patience is all gone

I need a moment to regroup 

So please leave Mom alone…

To check Facebook or watch TV

Or read a book – or two or three

Oh Quiet Time, oh Quiet Time

I’ve missed you, missed you so.

 

I love my kids, they know I do

But Mommy needs a break

A bubble bath, a Hershey bar

And maybe a cupcake

So close your mouths and shut my door – 

“Nice Mom” will be back after 4:00

Oh Quiet Time, oh Quiet Time

I love you oh so much!