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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Children Love Me

My children love me.  My five-year-old daughter shows her love in some very concrete ways: pictures, cards, a bit of her favorite treat leftover on a plate just for me...  My son shows his love in different ways.  At only 16 months old he gives me kisses and quick hugs; settles in for a long nursing session where he pokes at my nose and eyes; and he tries to set the table when it´s dinner time by emptying a drawer full of napkins and placing a couple of them haphazardly on the table.

When I´m absent from my children I don´t have these physical and present reminders of their love.  Instead, I keep it in my heart and my head in the form of knowledge and memories.  It sustains me as it hovers intangibly around my heart until I can go home from a long morning at work and wrap my babies in my arms and engage in quality time once more. 

Sometimes, I get tangible evidences of their love to take to work with me.  Well, my son can`t really give me this other than the occasional spot of drool on my shoulder. There was one time he gave me a pebble which I carry around in my change purse. Mostly, though, he's not quite capable of that kind of purposeful expression of love.  My daughter is a different story.  She lavishes her love in gifts: wilted dandelions in the cupholders of my car or tucked behind my ear, lunch notes and hand drawn princesses, stickers on the back of my hand or my phone...

Today it's a necklace  Her necklaces are her current crowning achievement.  It is the absolute best she can do with her creative expression.  She spent 45 minutes last week hand-picking each bead while I hurriedly prepared dinner.
"How do you like this one, Mommy.  Isn't it beautiful?"
"Yes dear, it's lovely."
"Oooh! This is the most beautiful one I've ever seen! I'm picking it just for you!"
"Mmm hmm..."
"Don't you love your necklace, Mommy? Why don't you wear it?"
"In a little bit dear."
"Did you wear it yet, Mommy?"
"Oooh! I forgot! I really do want to wear it.  I'll wear it tomorrow."

Tomorrow is here and she is not and as I prepare for class-fuls of teenagers who must be taught Spanish, I stop and finger each bead--all so different, all so colorful, so many shapes and sizes--and I feel the love poured into each choice trickling into my heart and warming it in the stressed and worried places.  The love poured into this plastic trinket soothes me in the places where I long to be a stay-at-home mom--in the places where I sometimes languish in the sadness of leaving my little living treasures behind each day.

She loves me. I don´t need the aqua colored, twisted rectangle shaped bead to show me that.  Or the one shaped like a seahorse.  Or the pearly orange one.  Or the pink one (because pink is her favorite).  But it´s nice to have them.

God's love is like that.  It's a knowledge we carry with us based on our relationship with Him and our memories.  It's based on head knowledge we carry from his Word and heart knowledge from the conversations we've had with him in the deepest places of our hearts.  It's based on memories of his presence and our experience with him.  God is not "with us" in the traditional sense of the word, but he is still always with us. He promises us that.  Yet since it sometimes feel that He is far away (though He is not), he likewise leaves us with these tangible gifts that are evidences of his all-encompassing love.  The beads my daughter gives are reminders of God's precious and thoughtful gifts.

The morning sunrise spilling in sheets from a break in the cloudy sky. 
The scripture that seems like it was written just for me.
A perfectly timed song.
The kind words of a friend.
The groceries delivered to me when I was too sick to get them myself.
His voice whispering audibly into my heart.
A student who thanks me for all the hard work I've poured into her.
Peace and joy in troubled times.
These gifts wrap around me like a warm hug, hang close to my heart like the beads of the necklace my daughter gave me.  Each one is a carefully chosen bead intended to show me love in a different way.   His love is with me and it's tangible in the very fabric of my life.  He loves us.  He doesn't have to, but he does.  When we open our eyes and search for him, when our ears are really listening, and sometimes when we are stubborn and deaf, we can't help but see it, hear it, feel it all day long.

Ephesians 3: 14-19
 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.  I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

16 months old

"Uh oh" when he drops things

He said "more" (mah) when he heard his sister say it.

I wish I could put a helmet on my son. He gets a new bruise or bump on that beautiful, big, little head at least once a day.

He says "woof" and "quack."  He loves animals and calls most of them "Gua guas."

He waves and squeals towards certain cabinets when he wants stuff.  He used to be allowed in this cabinet with the plastic containers but it made such a royal mess I put the child lock on it.  This photo is when he descovered that child lock for the first time.  He wasn't amused. 

He doesn't really shove his hand down my neckline anymore when he's feeling insecure.

Words: balloon, hello, hi, quack, book, bounce, dat, sit, either please or eat.

He likes carrying around snacks in a ziplock Baggie.

He's getting a little less obedient as he strives to discover the world on his own terms.

He hits. A lot. I'm not sure what to do about it. He seems to realize he can get away with more stuff than his sister and he defends himself and pesters her with hitting.

We moved his sister's kitchen set into his room and he's really excited.

He says "ow" and all animals seem to be "cuac cuac."

He likes to dance and clap to music.  He turns on the ABC song on his Fridge Phonics and dances to that.  He also dances to other music, mostly when he sees his sister dancing. 

He really enjoys little chairs.

He likes to hold our hands during the family meal prayer. He grunts if we forget him.

He presses the dial tone button on the phone in our room and then pitch matches it with his voice.

He loves walking around eating snacks in ziplock baggies.

The angry/hitting phase seems to have calmed after about a week.

He understands and obeys what I consider to be complicated commands like, "Go out that clothespin back in Mommy's room," or "can you bring me Daddy's capo?"

When he's sleepy, he's a little Linus about having a blanket.

He covered me with a blanket the other day when I was lying down on the floor and then he patted me on the back like I always do to him.

He says "done."

He calls all animals gua guas--especially dogs. It is his word for doggy.

If left in his crib for awhile he'll start to play happily and sing to himself. He also likes to shake the crib.

He was fastinated by this roaring dinosaur in Walmart when we went to Ohio.  His sister screamed every time we hit the button but he just got more interested in it.

He loves sunglasses, so these were a hit.

He was NOT a big fan of playing in the leaves.

Leaving daycare under the protective watch of his big sister.

His sister was in the bathroom at the grocery store and he was a bit worried that she'd disappeared behind the door so he kept pointing and grunting with his eyebrows up.  I explained her whereabouts over and over and he only relaxed when she came out. 

A trip to a historical landmark near our house.

At one of his baby sitters' houses.  He goes to a couple of places during the week.  I exchange sitting for Spanish classes for their kids and it saves us so much money on child care.

My two, happy kids.

They're getting along more and more! He was so tickled by her wearing this mask and scaring him.

With Grandma when she came to visit.

Feeling like a big boy in a big chair at Mommy's school.

Look at that little man ready for church! So handsome!

A rare photo with mommy that isn't a self portrait.

The family when we said goodbye to Grandma.

He likes dishes.

At Roxbury for our young adult retreat.  Fun times.

They brush their teeth together.

He has just started trying to put socks and shoes on himself and on others.

He came up and snuggled her as she snuggled me. 

With a blanket and a stuffed animal.  Typical. 

Hanging out with Nonno when he stopped by for a few hours.  Baby Bear was giving him tiny little animals while he and Bunny watched "Fractured Fairy Tales" which they do every time he visits.

Hanging out with one of my students (his favorite one) during miniterms at my school.  He and his sister came by for a little bit.