Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Bidding farewell

Well, here it is again, New Year's Eve. I know that our family will be more than glad to bid farewell to 2013.

Oh, the whole year itself was not bad. We had some wonderful times. A few highlights...Our family went to Pensacola again and had a ball. The boys are both enjoying school. David retook and passed his boards and remains a Fellow in the American Academy of Pediatrics. I worked hard at building my freelance writing business and did pretty well. I ran in my first five-mile race on Thanksgiving Day. William had his first piano recital, which went very well (he bowed at the end of his piece, which brought down the house), and Andrew sang with the preschool contingent in front of the whole church on the Children's Sabbath. William is reading on a seventh-grade reading level, and Andrew is eagerly looking forward to playing soccer this spring. And of course, David celebrated the Red Sox winning the World Series again this year.

But this was also the year that my father-in-law Aaron was diagnosed with lymphoma for the third time in less than four years. Cancer takes a lot out of a guy. So does the treatment. And we worried. Worried but hoped.

We worried over him, as he began chemo in November. We missed him on Thanksgiving, but we knew that it was better for him to stay home and rest and steer clear of us and our germs (between David's line of work and two little boys, we are always germy). We resigned ourselves to not getting to celebrate his birthday on Christmas Eve with him this year, too. But we all told ourselves that we'd look forward to celebrating the end of chemo with him sometime in January. We held out hope for a bone marrow transplant after chemo, hoping that it would be the cure, the cure. We told him that we couldn't wait for him to see Andrew play his first soccer game. And maybe see William play a few basketball games later this winter, like he did last year. We looked forward to eating burgers and drinking Coca Colas with him when he felt better.


Unfortunately, Aaron's body just couldn't make it that far. On Christmas Eve, on the day of his 71st birthday, he went into cardiac arrest at the oncology clinic. It was over, almost before it began.

We were all shocked. No, surely not, I thought. No. The chest pain that Aaron had been experiencing that morning was supposed to be reflux. Or perhaps a panic attack. Something. Not a heart attack. Not a fatal heart attack.


Unfortunately, it was true. Aaron was gone. And he is gone. And yet, I can still hear his voice in my head so clearly. I know, and yet somehow I don't know.

As I wrote on Facebook, in the shocked days after his death, Aaron was a devoted grandfather to William and Andrew. He adored them, and the feeling was mutual. He attended soccer games and basketball games and read stories and served giant (seriously) bowls of ice cream and defended "my clients" when they got rowdy and caused trouble with their mom or dad. They had code words that they said back and forth to each other ("hooty hoot!").

I will always be so glad, so grateful, that the boys got to spend so much time with him. William, especially, has so many terrific memories of his Grandaddy Aaron, and he will always cherish those. David and I will, too. One of my favorite Aaron-and-William memories is from when William was almost three. Aaron went to the preschool to pick William up one day, and a couple of the teachers spotted the two of them walking down the hall, hand in hand. "Ah ha!" one said. "Now we know exactly where he comes from!"

Two of a kind: William and Aaron.
There is so much more I could write. I could ramble on and on here. But the most important thing is this: we loved Aaron. David loved his daddy so, so much. I loved my father-in-law. The boys loved their grandaddy.

Oh, yes, we will miss him so much.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas from my house to yours.

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Peace on earth, and good will to all!

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Smile for the camera, boys!

A few years ago, I used to start worrying about taking the perfect Christmas card photo before Thanksgiving even rolled around. We had always received armloads of cards with pictures of beautifully dressed children who posed and smiled perfectly for the camera, and I always wanted to be able to create one, too. 

Well. Getting the perfect Christmas card photo of our two boys was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Sometimes, I'd get a good photo of William, only to catch Andrew looking away from the camera. Or Andrew might finally smile for the camera, only for William to be groaning for me to hurry up. Or the picture would be blurry. Argh.

I usually wound up cobbling together my favorites, even if they weren't perfect, and made a card with those pictures. At least they made me smile, I reasoned. 

This year, I knew I wanted to use a favorite beach photo for our card, so I wasn't even concerned with trying to get a good Christmas-themed photo of Andrew and William to use for a card. So when we recently made the rounds of Cheekwood and Santa's workshop, I brought along my camera and mostly just snapped photos for fun. No wheedling with Andrew to just please look at the camera, please please please? No asking William to please settle down and stop dancing around. 

And wouldn't you know it? I got some terrific pictures of the boys! They're just being themselves. This is what they're really like. 

And you know what? These make me smile...a lot. Hope they make you smile, too....

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Brotherly love

They fight. They tussle. They argue. They get sent to Time Out for fighting, tussling and arguing. They also look at each other, touch each other and take each others stuff.

Pretty normal, I'd say. I might remember doing a few of those things myself, once upon a time. I'm sure David would probably make a similar admission.

They also look out for each other, and they do nice things for each other. Two recent examples. William wrote that Andrew was his favorite person on a poster they made together. And at Target last week, Andrew asked if he could pick out a special snack to give to William after his piano lesson.

They really do love each other. It just happens to sometimes involve arguing over who gets to play with Mommy's iPad or who gets to open the door first. Sometimes it involves loud screaming and door slamming and "ow, he pulled my hair"-ing.

But it also involves William volunteering to read bedtime stories to Andrew ("I read really well because I read with lots of expression," he told me confidently) and it involves Andrew putting his little head on William's shoulder and listening intently, while they snuggle up together in Andrew's bed.

Some photos of brotherly love, at a good moment:

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013


OMG, I can't believe it's been this long since I updated this blog. (OMG, I can't believe I just used "OMG" and wasn't even being ironic.)

So we've had a busy fall. Insert usual comments here about busy school calendars, extracurriculars, church stuff, etc. Yep yep and more yep. We've been busy. 

We went to Cheekwood....

....and to the pumpkin patch at Gentry's Farm in Franklin....

...and I tried to get photos of both of my lovely boys looking at the camera and smiling at the same time, but well, you know how that usually ends up...

....oooh, and we petted the kangaroos at the new exhibit at the Nashville Zoo! (That was so, so cool. Can I just add here that this kangaroo just sat there and placidly let hordes of eager kids and their parents pet her? For a long time? Amazing.)

And William has been playing soccer and piano, and he's also a Cub Scout. Andrew's been begging to play soccer, so we've decided that we'll register him for his first soccer team in the spring. So this is the last fall that he'll officially be on the bench. 

Tomorrow is Halloween, and I'm not sure who's more excited: William or Andrew. Or, er, maybe me. But the weather is supposed to be horrible, so we may have to delay the trick-or-treating by a day. Fine by me. Friday night trick-or-treating, even with a Saturday morning soccer game, is always the best!

Friday, August 30, 2013

First day of preschool for Andrew

Guess who started three-year-old preschool today?

This guy!

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Here's Andrew walking up the sidewalk to his school. I didn't get any good shots of him once he got into the classroom, though. He was totally focused on getting into his new routine, although he did stop to give me a big hug goodbye.

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The reason his hair is a little crazy is that he finally consented to taking off the duck hat that he's been wearing nearly non-stop lately. You know. This hat:

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All bets are off, though, as to whether he'll agree to not wear it next week to school. He will tell you that he's a duck and he HAS to wear the duck hat. To hammer home his point, he then walks around, quacking quietly. Quack, quack, quack.

So anyway, back to the first day of preschool. Andrew had a great day today, and I have to tell you, I'm so glad. He freaked out on the first day of school last year, to everyone's surprise. And I was half-worried he'd do it again this year.

But nope. He's been looking forward to going back to school ever since William started school, and he was READY. I mean, READY. What's not to love? Today, on his first day, Andrew got to eat Teddy Grahams and bananas for snacktime AND play on the Big Kids playground AND go to music class AND see all his friends. It doesn't get much better than that when you're three years old.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Second grade starts

It annoys me how ridiculously early that school starts here in Nashville now. August 1 is not a school start date. It should be the start of another week of summer camp. Or the last week of swim team. Or the week that you go to the beach. NOT the time to load up your kids' backpacks with those elusive Black Warrior pencils, Elmer's glue sticks and two-pocket folders with prongs in red, blue and yellow (why no green, folks?). 

At any rate, I am now the proud mother of a second grader. Isn't he cute? 

William really was so excited about going back to school. He was ready to see all his peeps again. And of course, I made sure that he had a turquoise shirt to wear, since he always wants to wear his favorite color on the first day of school. Well. It's sort of aqua, but it's close. Close enough.

We managed to get to school and find his classroom and meet his new (and very young!) teacher, all without incident. And we even had Andrew with us, so that's saying something.

William, in classic William form, found his new classroom and immediately began chatting everyone up. He even managed to corral his teacher and tell her all about how he's reading "The Lightning Thief" and how exciting it is.

But oh, I can't get over how grown-up he's getting, and how weird it feels to have a second-grader!

I mean, I remember starting second grade so clearly. I had a navy blue backpack with a strawberry patch on it. My teacher was Mrs. Munson. My desk was right under an air-conditioning vent, so my mom found a cardigan sweater that I could keep on my chair. It was the year we learned the song "Eidelweiss" because our classroom's assigned country for the International Festival was Austria. It was the same year I started ballet lessons at the good old Jackie O'Neal School of Dance (wonder if it's still there?).

It seems hardly possible that I'm on the Mom side of second grade now. And even more weirdly, I'm older now than my mom was when I was in second grade. Whew.

Monday is his first full day. Let's hope it's a good year!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Another great week at the beach

It would be hard to have more fun at the beach than these two crazy characters did last week in Pensacola.

We had a terrific week. Seriously, it was one of the best family vacations we've taken, right up there with the weekend that we spent in the mountains when Andrew was about eight months old.

The boys were great. They had their own room in our beach condo this year, and they really did well together. The first night, they stayed up and chatted and were marginally noisy 'til nearly 10. Every other night, they conked out shortly after we closed their bedroom door.

So we played on the beach, we collected shells, we played in the waves, we ate (a lot of) shrimp, and we just generally had a nice relaxing week.

Oh yes, and there was Putt Putt. The Third Annual David Wyckoff Golf Tournament, in fact, was held this year. William and Andrew, along with their buddy Sammy, played all 18 holes in this year's tourney.

As Sammy's dad Bruce remarked, "We're not even going to pretend to keep score, are we?" Nope. We putted, we ate ice cream, and then we went home.

More photos to come soon!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Summer pressure

It's July 6th.

We are more than halfway through the summer, as defined by the public school calendar here in Nashville. And I'm starting to feel the pressure.

What pressure? Why, the pressure to Do All The Important Summer Things.

Think back to the summers of your own childhood. Okay, think back to the summers like those of my childhood. Catching lightning bugs in the yard after the sun went down. Eating drippy popsicles on the back deck. Spending long mornings at the pool while the sun blazed overhead. Trips to the amusement park where you squelched around in wet shoes from the water rides. The slip'n'slide in your best friend's yard.

You know. All the poetic nostalgic stuff. The stuff that often sounds better in print here, on my blog, that maybe it actually was at the time. (Although, honestly, I think I enjoyed all those things an awful lot when I was actually doing them, too. I have never not enjoyed popsicles or lightning bugs.)

So now I'm a parent. Summer only lasts about nine weeks now, due to the schools' insane August 1 start date. That gives me a finite amount of time to make sure that my boys experience the optimum amount of Fun Summer Childhood Stuff that will make them reminisce dreamily when they're thirty-cough-something one day.

So let me run down the list...

  • Berry picking: check. Thank goodness we did that one early. We've been meaning to go back, but a combination of crazy weather and crazy work demands means that we haven't done it yet.
  • Lazy days at the pool: check. Sort of. William's been getting individual swim coaching instruction at our neighborhood pool, which means we've spent a lot of time at the pool. Not exactly lazy hours on a chaise lounge, though. 
  • Trip to the zoo: check. That's an easy one. I'm sure we'll fit in at least one more, too.
  • Trips to the parks: check. We've hit greenways and playgrounds. 
  • Trips to the ice cream shop: check. Does frozen yogurt count? Another easy one to do again soon. 
  • Making homemade something or other: Hmmm. We have not yet made homemade popsicles or anything else summery yet this year. Must get on that.
  • Trip to the beach: it's coming. Let's all pray for good weather.
  • Fireworks viewing: no check. It rained cats and dogs here on the Fourth. We heard some fireworks set off by our intrepid neighbors who braved the drizzle, but we mostly just watched the televised version from the comfort of our family room sofa. 
  • Trip to the farmer's market: still need to do this. I'm jonesing for some heirloom tomatoes, and the boys would eat their weight in watermelon if I let them. 
  • Catching lightning bugs: sadly, no. By the time it's dark around here, Andrew really really really needs to be in bed. William and I have enjoyed watching them flash around the neighborhood, though. But we've never done the mason jar-with-holes-in-the-lid thing.
  • Attending a live music show outside, check. Hooray for Cheekwood and its Thursday night Family Night. We've packed a picnic and eaten it on the lawn of Cheekwood twice already this summer. Easy and fun. 

Hey, I haven't done too badly. Okay, pressure's off. Now I just need to not add anything else to my list, and I'll be in good shape. Of course, in about another three weeks, I'll be panicking over school supply lists and back-to-school clothes. But perhaps I can enjoy this satisfaction for a little while first.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Picking strawberries

Have you ever made plans--the most seemingly perfect plans for Something Fun to Do--only to watch them unravel in a heart-stoppingly rapid and dizzying fashion? 

I was convinced that my plan to take Andrew and William to pick strawberries last week was just such a plan. It sounded so simple, so bucolic, that it was bound to fail--and to fail spectacularly. 

And yet...

My plan succeeded. We drove to a local farm, collected our buckets, and picked strawberries with absolutely no fuss, no tantrums and no trouble at all. 

Only the most perfect berries would do for Andrew and William.
A friend recently posted on Facebook that she has been taking her children to a U Pick farm near Lebanon, Tennessee for years. I smiled at the pictures of her happy children with their buckets full of ripe fruit, but then something else that she wrote caught my eye: the farm was not far away and was easy to get to. 

Ah ha! I thought. I've been wanting to take William to pick fruit for years now, and this year, even Andrew is finally old enough to go. My brother John volunteered to go with us, for crowd control. 

Andrew was so excited by his first few hand-picked strawberries
that he kept calling me to look, look, Mommy!

So we got up on Friday, got dressed, and took the leap of faith. I told myself that even if it didn't turn out that well, it would still be better than a morning of hanging around the house. I wouldn't be telling William to stop playing Minecraft or peeling Andrew down off some rickety stool that he shouldn't be climbing on. And we might even end up with a handful of fresh strawberries.

It was worth it. And it really was.

Amazingly, even though it looked like rain, it didn't rain. It wasn't too hot. We didn't get lost on the way to the farm. We got blue raspberry Icees on the way there, so the boys were both already happy before we even got to the farm. The farm wasn't crowded. We didn't have to hike a long way to get to the picking area. 

How many WINS is that? Are you keeping count? Don't hate me for gloating over this. Didn't you read my last post about the terrible trip to Target?

Look, Ma! I picked these myself!

I didn't even have to tell the boys to be careful when picking the fruit. They took to it like they'd done it a hundred times before. They inspected the plants and delicately lifted up the leaves to search for ripe berries. I probably squashed more overripe berries than both of my sons put together. 

We picked a smidge over a gallon, then paid up and headed out. My brother inspected the nearby blueberry patch but that fruit won't be ready to pick 'til late June or so. William eagerly volunteered to go back to pick blueberries and blackberries later in the summer because he enjoyed the strawberry picking so much.

That evening, I washed and sliced a big bowl of those strawberries. William gleefully pointed out all the tiny dark red berries that he had so carefully harvested with gentle fingers. Andrew didn't care whether he'd picked those particular berries or not, he just wanted MORE MORE MORE. 

And you know, those berries were maybe some of the best fruit I've ever tasted myself. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Target Tantrums

Yes, that was me in Target with the two badly behaved little boys. And yes, that was me responding in a perhaps less-than-civilized manner to them.

Andrew was the louder of the two and probably the most disruptive. But William cannot be held entirely blameless. William was amusing himself by, in the excellent words of my friend Marissa, "poking the bear." Andrew wanted to push the cart all by himself with no one else even coming within a 12-inch radius of the cart. In the time-honored tradition of big brothers everywhere, William used this as an opportunity to do things like put one finger on the cart, which drove Andrew into a mad frenzy.

Oy. Why do I take them anywhere together?

Of course, then you have the Judgmental Mommies. They can be spotted easily by their two most visible characteristics: a disapproving frown and a napping infant in a carrier on their chest. Just you wait, you Judgmental Mommies. One day that sleeping baby is going to grow up and demand candy NOW or throw a fit in the store aisle because you won't buy them a whatever or refuse to either walk or ride in the cart and you are going to FEEL SO ROTTEN about judging all those other parents who came before you. And so you should.

And just so you know, I won't really put Andrew in time out for the rest of his life, even though I threatened to do so in the shoe department.

Even though it is mighty tempting.

And darned if Target was completely out of faux Crocs in Andrew's size. We didn't even get any shoes to make up for the chaos.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The magic jack o'lantern

I'm almost afraid to post this because I'm afraid it will jinx me or something! But last night, I somehow stumbled onto a way to keep Andrew in bed after the lights go out. And it worked. It was like a miracle.

He deeply adores the electric jack o'lanterns that I bought at Target a few years ago. Even though I optimistically store them away every November, he always digs through the bin of Halloween gear and retrieves them.

So you might drive by our house one balmy May evening and spot a jack o'lantern leering at you from our front porch. The azaleas are blooming, the dogwood tree is covered in white blossoms, and the jack o'lantern is lit. I'm sure our neighbors think we're crazy.

Last night, Andrew objected when I removed the jack o'lantern from our front porch. I told him that it was bathtime and that I was not leaving the pumpkin outside again. Then I had an idea.

"Would you like to keep the jack o'lantern in your room tonight?" I asked temptingly. "You have to stay in your bed, though, if you want to keep it in your room all night long."

"YES!" Andrew shouted gleefully. It was if I'd offered him a winning lottery ticket. And let's face it, when you're three, a light-up pumpkin is more exciting than some piece of paper with words on it that you don't understand anyway.

So after taking a bath and brushing his teeth, Andrew willingly climbed up into his new big boy bed and got all cozy. I plugged the jack o'lantern in and handed the Cars flashlight to Andrew. I turned off the overhead light and reiterated that it was time to go to sleep--and that the jack o'lantern's presence depended on Andrew's ability to stay put in his bed. Then I walked out and closed the door.

I braced myself for the usual telltale thump that heralds Andrew vaulting out of bed and making a beeline for his bedroom door. So he can taunt me. Nothing.

A little while later, I could hear him "reading" to himself, probably by the light of his pumpkin. (William later confirmed that Andrew was indeed doing just that.) Then quiet.

And it stayed quiet.

I was shocked. Shocked and gleeful.

Oh please please please, let it work tonight, too. I'll put a Christmas tree in his room if it'll convince him to go to bed.

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's just a phase

Oh my dear Lord, Andrew is wearing me out these days. Wearing. Me. Out. Like an old sweater. I am the old sweater, moth-eaten and pilled. 

He can be adorable, though. Oh yes. See how adorable he is here, in this last-day-of-school photo, holding his out-of-season bunny ears:

He can be precious and hilarious and so sweet that you just want to nibble on him.

And then he can be a terror. I remember this being a tricky age with William, so intellectually I do know that this is a phase. And it will eventually come to an end. But the meantime is utterly exhausting.

For example, Andrew no longer feels compelled to take a nap. Never mind that he still needs a nap most days. Nope, he's not going to take one. But then he's exhausted and shrieky and wound-up by dinnertime, which makes dinnertime awful and bathtime even worse. 

I can hear you thinking, "So just put him to bed early." Ha HA! If only it were that easy. Putting him to bed early means that he just pops in and out of his room for an hour or two. He might demand water. Or announce that he wants William to see his pajamas. Or he might just enjoy opening and closing his door, over and over and OVER and over again. 

The end result of this is that he doesn't get enough rest, and I'm tired and frustrated, too. 

William was tricky at three, William was tricky at three, William was tricky at three. I just have to keep reminding myself that we somehow made it through. If I could just remember how we did it, though...

Hey look, it's William on the last day of school when he was newly three!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Big Boy Bed...Sort Of

Whenever Andrew starts to drive me nuts again, I have to remind myself that William was a bit of a terror at this age, too. And it, too, passed. In fact, William, bless his heart, even likes to remind me about all the exasperating things he did when he was three. 

So knowing that this is a rather, er, tricky age for the young men in my family, it was with some trepidation that we took down the crib yesterday. Here's a picture of Andrew all gleeful at the prospect of giving up the crib for a big boy bed at long last. 

If you're saying, "Wow! That looks like trouble personified!" I would have to agree with you. He's adorable, yes, but oh, he can be such a handful. Maybe several handfuls. It's the age, it's the age, it's the age. If we can just make it to age four....

So this is the big boy bed, sans bed.

We put a mattress and box springs directly on the floor, while we wait for the actual bed to be delivered. Andrew didn't care, though. He was just delighted by the prospect of No More Crib. And to his credit, he eagerly tossed his beloved binky in the trash can, as we had agreed months ago that a big boy bed meant no more binkies. And he did so on his own free will, with no coercing from us. And didn't look back. And didn't even whine for it later.

Of course, he was up and down for hours last night after we put him to bed. And he was up and down all afternoon when he was supposed to be napping. He played the xylophone. He played with the castle. He took a can of Lysol and sprayed the whole thing on his dresser and ruined the finish. Good times.

And now he's resisting bedtime again. Normal. It's normal. He's got to be exhausted but he's just so darned excited by his new sleeping arrangements that he can barely stand it. I hope it becomes less thrilling soon.

How many more months 'til he turns four again?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hello, Seven!

So the craziest thing happened on Monday.

William turned seven. Seven years old. SEVEN.

See that? That's what a seven-year-old looks like!

I can't quite grasp it in some ways. I mean, I remember being seven pretty well. I had a birthday party in our yard, and we played in the sprinkler. We borrowed one of those funny jobbies where the sprinkler resembled a clown face, and the force of the stream of water from the hose made his hat rise up in the air. Then I entered second grade, and my teacher's name was Mrs. Munson. We learned the song "Eidelweiss" in her class that year. I had a navy blue backpack with a big red strawberry patch on the pocket. See? See how much I remember? Seven wasn't that long ago for me!

Except, well, yeah, it was. This is what seven looks like in my world now:

So a belated happy birthday to my sunny firstborn son! You've always been so full of life and laughter. You're so friendly and warm and encouraging toward others. You ask such thoughtful questions and come up with the most amazing answers. You're reading chapter books, like The Magic Treehouse series, and you're a master at Legos. Yep, you're seven all right. I'm not quite sure how we got here, but it's been a pretty fun ride!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Easter photos

Here are my boys, all cleaned up on Easter Sunday. Actually, I should admit that in this photo, Andrew's arm is not raised so that he can hug his big brother. No, I managed to snap this photo in the nanosecond before Andrew hit his big brother. In the church. Lovely. 

After church we went home, where we managed to get a few slightly more angelic photos of the two:

Aw, I am going to miss those sweet little outfits like the one Andrew is wearing. He's just about to outgrow them. Look how grown up William looks in his button-down shirt with his grown-up front teeth!

I thought that it would be easy to get good pictures of them by this time. Ha ha! Well, William is finally old enough to sit still and smile on cue, but Andrew cheerfully disregards any pleas to smile and look sweet for the camera. I'm not actually sure how we managed to get these last couple of photos, come to think of it. David's camera has a faster shutter speed than mine, which may have been key. 

Diane did manage to successfully capture the whole family in one good picture, though! 

Don't look too closely at the way I'm clutching Andrew's legs to keep him from diving out of my arms.

Honestly, though?

This is what Andrew and William are really like:

I mean, what else can I tell you? They're nuts. I adore them, and they are so incredibly silly. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Kairos Time

Sometimes I'm just so tired because parenting is so exhausting. How many times in one day can you take it when your three-year-old keeps taking off his shoes while asking "why?" over and over and over again in an increasingly louder voice? Or when both your kids insist on wrestling each other on the hardwood floor, and then scream when they inevitably bash their heads into it? Or when you have to scrounge up food for nutritious meals to serve to your kids three times a day but they whine that they don't want to eat more vegetables? Did I mention the never-ending stream of requests for snacks? Don't get me started on the whole production that is making William do his homework. 

Sometimes I just have to say, "Oh well." For example, on Sunday after church, a woman stood in the doorway with a disapproving look at on her face while my children raced noisily through the door. But I was so tired of keeping up with them and with everything that I have to do that I just let them be rowdy. (Don't worry, I didn't let them knock anyone over. Other than themselves, that is.) I just didn't have any more energy to police them for something that, by that point, didn't seem like a very big deal. 

I've also had those days when I've been so freaking busy, with deadlines raining down on top of me, that I have just pushed my kids away from me constantly, with increasing frustration...only to hear the strains of "Cat's in the Cradle" echoing in the back of my brain. Argh. Argh. Argh. I've thought, while I flipped through journal articles and double-checked academic credentials of expert sources, "My kids are going to grow up and only remember the woman frantically trying to write six articles at once and batting them away from her while she typed furiously. They're going to remember the woman who yelled at them to be quiet all the time." 

I want us all to be able to find those special, magic, sacred moments in our lives that make it okay to still live with the rest of the craziness that we kind of have to live with. I want some kairos time sprinkled in among my chronos time.

The Peevish Mama has written about the precarious balance of kairos and chronos, and so has Glennon at the Momastery. Glennon wrote one particular paragraph in her blog post about kairos vs. chronos that leaped out at me:

"I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn’t enjoying it enough. Double failure.  I felt guilty because I wasn’t in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn’t MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I’d wake up and the kids would be gone, and I’d be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No."

Oh boy, that hits me where I sometimes live. I love my children. I love them deeply. But sometimes, the daily wear-and-tear of parenting is just...well, I'd be lying if I said that I loved every  minute of it. 

But Glennon pointed out something else that pierced my heart and gave me hope. You can't live in kairos time all the time, obviously. You have to go to Target. You have to clean the bathroom. You have to do all those chores of daily living and parenting. But you can look for those kairos moments folded into the chronos time. And you can savor them. She wrote,

"These kairos moments leave as fast as they come- but I mark them. I say the word kairos in my head each time I leave chronos. And at the end of the day, I don’t remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it. ....If I had a couple Kairos moments during the day, I call it a success."

I'm going to work on that. I'm going to work on being more deliberate about looking for the kairos in my life. In the meantime, here's a picture of some kairos time with my family yesterday afternoon...

We just went out in the yard for a little while and kicked the soccer ball around. We weren't out there a really long time, and yes, there were other things that we probably "should" have been doing. I say "should" because David and I both had work to do that we ended up working on that evening. I probably should have been making dinner and washing clothes. But we put it aside for a little while just to get outside and play with the kids. 

Because these kinds of moments, the ones with the soccer ball in the backyard on a windy Sunday afternoon,

are the ones that I hope that we all remember.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Three is the magic number

From this....

to this, in just three short years!

See how he's holding up three fingers? That's so you'll know that he's three years old now.

Happy birthday to my beloved second son, Andrew. You are such a wonderful, funny little boy, sometimes shy and sometimes exuberant. It has been quite an adventure, my sweet, sweet boy. 

As most parents do, we tend to mythologize the birth story of both of our boys. The stories are true, of course, but there's a certain way of telling them that makes them into Stories, if you know what I mean. Andrew's birth story always starts out, "It snowed the day you were born!"

And it did. I remember watching the snowflakes drift down from the sky from my hospital room. I remember fretting that I'd sent William off to school in a Red Sox baseball cap, instead of a warm stocking hat. I remember bringing along a bag full of fleecy warm baby clothes and blankets because we were planning to bring home a new baby(!) in that cold, cold weather. 

Today was a sunny day, cold but not bitingly cold. We went to church, then came home for lunch. Andrew took a nap, while I threw together his little birthday party. The only thing he requested was chocolate cake, and by George, we had ourselves some chocolate cake tonight. Pizza and chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. It doesn't get much better than that when you're three years old. 

Three years old. No longer a baby, but a little boy. A little boy who loves Corduroy and Super Why and cats and dogs and yogurt and strawberries and, yes, chocolate cake. A little boy who stubbornly refuses to potty train but who so desperately wants to be a big kid like his brother. A little boy who puts crayons underneath all the doors in the house and when asked why, explains "They help the doors feel better." (Because that makes sense to him, somehow.) A little boy who will very soon (I promise, sweetie) get his long-awaited big boy bed. A little boy who still loves to be carried by his mama...until he's ready to be put down so he can run, run, run. 

My precious little boy, Andrew. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Happy Groundhog Snow Day

Snow! A Groundhog Day Snow Storm!

Okay, so "snow storm" is a bit of an exaggeration. It would be like calling a VW Bug a giant car. We got enough of a dusting of snow last Thursday evening that William's school was closed on Friday, and then it snowed again that night and we woke up to a winter wonderland on Saturday. The 9 am basketball game was cancelled (yeeha!), and I began scouring the house for weather-appropriate attire so we could venture outside and play.

We had a short-lived snow-handful fight (too loose and powdery to make good snowballs)

and William made a snow angel or four

and Andrew got in a few last tossed handfuls of snow

and then we went inside and guzzled down some hot chocolate, as God intended for snow days.

It's a good thing that we did our playing in the early morning (all of these photos were taken before 9 a.m.) because the snow had completely melted by early afternoon. It was if we had dreamed it.

Every time it snows, I reminisce about how it snowed the day Andrew was born, and how I was so relieved that I was actually in the hospital, safe, when the snowflakes began to fly. I fretted that whole winter that I would go into labor in the middle of one of that winter's frequent snowfalls, stranding me at our house. This year, I just worry about whether everyone has a hat and mittens and the right shoes. Much better.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lessons Learned from an Overscheduled Weekend

Lesson No. 1: Don't ever do this to yourself again. Three birthday parties, a basketball game, a dinner meeting, a church meeting, and church is a lot to pack into one weekend. Too much. What on earth was I thinking? William the Extrovert loved it, but Mommy the (Much Older) Extrovert is getting too old for this kind of pace.

Lesson No. 2: Grandparents really do make the world go 'round. Without my parents and my in-laws, there is no way I could have gotten everyone to their appointed and respective events this weekend. Not unless I cloned myself or acquired a time machine (or ideally, both). Since David was down with the flu* this weekend, the grandparents were even more of a godsend. (*Apparently we needed another challenge.)

Lesson No. 3: Eggs are good. Everyone in my household ate eggs on Saturday, and we were all remarkably cheerful after that. I guess the protein gave us some much needed energy and fended off any hunger-related meltdowns. Note to self: if you forget Lesson No. 1, at least make sure to remember Lesson No. 3.

Lesson No. 4: Do as much as you can in advance. Make sure the car's gas tank is full. Buy birthday presents in advance, wrap them and have them ready to go in advance, pack changes-of-clothes and backpacks in advance. Store things in the car so you don't forget them. Don't plan on "picking anything up" along the way because there is just not going to be any time to do this. Okay, I actually already knew this lesson and had all the birthday gifts and cards ready to go, but sure enough, that proved to have been a Very Good Idea.

Lesson No. 5: It's okay if you have to yell. Sometimes you get frustrated. We're human, after all. This morning, I felt terrible after I screamed--literally screamed--at Andrew this morning when he shut the locked door in my face, leaving me in the garage and him in the kitchen. With the clock ticking and us becoming increasingly more likely to be late to church. I'm trying to yell less these days, and while that's a good and noble approach, sometimes someone does something that really necessitates a good honest-to-God yelling. I apologized for it afterward. For the screaming and yelling. Not for the being-frustrated part. I'm still trying to yell less, but the world didn't collapse when I did have a bad moment.

Lesson No. 6: It's good to have at least a few moments of downtime in between all the activities, if there's any possible way to swing it. I managed to take William to eat breakfast at Bread & Company after his crack-of-dawn basketball game on Saturday, and it was seriously the best part of my weekend. William and me and a plate of eggs. (See Lesson No. 3.) We really weren't there for that long but it was long enough for us to just relax and be together. We talked about the recent video made of the reclusive giant squid and all sorts of crazy stuff. Afterward, William asked if we could have another breakfast date again together soon. Heck yeah, I told him. It was awesome.

So we survived our hectic weekend, and we lived for me to tell the tale on my blog. Not too bad. David's on the mend, and no one had a meltdown all weekend long, save for my little garage yelling episode. But I'd say that we're all pretty glad that our busy busy busy weekend is behind us.

Now...off to bed with me!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The tumbling tot

It's lousy to be the second kid. Or the third kid, if you have three, which I don't, but it's the same concept.

When William was a toddler, we did Gymboree and Kindermusik classes together. We went to the children's playrooms. We did storytimes at bookstores and libraries. We went to the zoo, to the botanical garden, the science museum. I earnestly took him anywhere that I could think of to entertain and enrich him.

Then I had another baby. Immediately, that baby, who will turn three next month, got dragged along to soccer games, and t-ball games, and swim lessons and church choir practice, and preschool performances and, yes, storytime and trips to the zoo or the farmer's market or Monkey's Treehouse. He went to birthday parties in the Baby Bjorn at five weeks of age, and he went to family camp out in the boonies of central Tennessee just a couple of weeks later. He got passed around at church dinners and Bible studies .

Our busy lives went on, and we just brought Andrew along with us.

Andrew will begin his very first activity today in about an hour. I signed Andrew up for a seven-week parent-and-child Tumble Tots class at the YMCA near our house.

I told him about it the other day. He couldn't quite believe it. "I go to Tumble Tots? You go to Tumble Tots with me?" he said, opening his eyes wide. "You be in class with me?"

Oh, yeah, that sound you just heard? That was guilt piercing my heart. This poor sweet child has gamely attended so many soccer practices and birthday parties for his brother's friends. But he's never gotten to do much of anything that was intended for him and him alone.

Well, I have done one thing. Back in the early autumn, I did start taking him to the downtown library's story hour-puppet show on Tuesday mornings. But unfortunately, the demands of my freelance writing career have sometimes taken precedence. We go often, but not all the time. I wish we could go every single time, as Andrew loves it. He may even love it more than William did at the same age. And William really loved it.

So David suggested that I look into a tumbling or gymnastics class for Andrew because he's always been pretty physically agile. And he adores doing his version of yoga whenever he overhears me talking about going to a yoga class at the Y. (He's got a nice downward dog. Tree pose could use a little refining.) It sounded like a good idea.

I had no idea how good an idea it really was. Oh, that face when he grasped that he's finally, finally getting to do a special activity--and not just a special activity, but one with Mommy and not also for or with his big brother. It was like he'd won a major award. Mom's still holding on letting him join a soccer team (I've seen teams of three-year-olds playing soccer, and while the humor value is off the charts, I don't think it's something we need to add to our already busy schedule just yet.) but she's letting him do Tumble Tots.

It doesn't matter if Andrew can tumble. It doesn't matter if he ever learns to tumble. It doesn't matter if he pays attention to the instructor or loves the class. It matters that he knows that he's getting to participate in an activity that was chosen just for him. With his mommy, no less.

Let's just hope that the instructor doesn't ask me to do any tumbling, though.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Sunday Morning in the Balcony

When William is gleefully and noisily slurp-slurp-slurping his little cup of grape juice during communion, I have to remind myself that God really does love him just the way he is.

Boy, though. If sitting through church with a squirmy six-year-old boy doesn't test one's ability to be calm and in control, I don't know what does.

Our church is beginning to have a conversation around what a family-friendly church looks like. What kind of services does it have or should it have? Do we need to make any changes to our services? If we did, what would they look like? Would it be worthwhile to make changes, though, if it alienates some people? What if it bothers the parents of those children who have deliberately chosen to attend our church the way that it is now because of the way that it is now (we presume)?

I think it's worth having the discussion, to be sure.

We attend a big Presbyterian church that has what you might call a "high church" bent to it. And I personally love that. I love High Church. I love the liturgy, the processional, the way that someone carries the big Bible into the church at the start of the service, the hymns, the hymnbook, the responsive recitations. I love the way that the words are worn smooth on the Lord's Prayer, and I love the thundering notes of the pipe organ that I can feel in the bottom of my stomach and in the marrow of my bones. I love it when the choir sings a complicated piece of music written by Haydn or Bach that makes me feel like I've just attended a professional choral concert. I love the way the children's choir members wear floppy white robes and line up on the front steps to sing like the little angels that they weren't behaving like just a few minutes earlier in the hallway.

I love that my child experiences these things each Sunday (or often enough). I love that he will grow up with this as his experience of church. I love the way that he can stand at front of the balcony and look down on the choir members as they process into the sanctuary. I love that he can page through the hymnal and find songs that I remember singing as a little girl, along with newer songs that I sang at Montreat youth conferences and much, much older songs that my grandparents sang in churches far away.  I love that he is participating in the life of a church that wants to nurture his faith by encouraging him to ask hard questions, examine his faith and ponder the possibilities.

But I know that I am not everyone.

And even I admit that it can get very tedious, sitting in the balcony with my child as he wiggles around during the Scripture readings. Our church doesn't have a children's time, so there's little opportunity for the kids to get up and move around during the service. I actually look forward to the times when they serve communion by intinction because we get to walk down the main aisle to receive the elements and then walk back up to our seats. Even better are the weeks with a baptism. William gets to go down front with his friends and see the babies up close. I don't even flinch when all the kids race back to their seats, with William and a few other children pounding up the balcony steps like they're doing wind sprints at a football stadium. They're burning a few calories and burning up some energy, and they're having a positive experience in church at the same time. That's a win-win, in my book.

Would it be good to have more of those interludes? Would other adults find it annoying? Does it matter if they find it annoying, since the children are every bit as important to the church as the adults are--and maybe more? Is there a way to make (almost) everybody happy? Or honestly, is happy not the point? Is the point more about making people of all ages feel included and welcome, and if there are some pounding feet in there, isn't that sort of, well, just fine? Wouldn't it be just fine with God, since He really does love all of us, just the way we are?

Even if our faces have juice stains and our patent Mary Janes are a little scuffed? Even if we're a little hard of hearing and have to use a cane to negotiate the walk from the parking lot to the pew? Even if we're flustered from shepherding a rowdy group of kids and just sort of want a few moments of peace to rest? Even if our kids are grown and we've had a good night's sleep and today we're looking forward to a soul-piercing sermon? Even if we're glad to be there but still have a hard time sitting still and being quiet for 75 minutes? Even if maybe we're not so glad to be there but Mom said we had to be there so what are we going to do about it?

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Gearing up for the Big Boy Bed

This morning, a giggling Andrew bounced up onto my bed and crawled under the covers with me. "Mommy," he announced. "I want a big boy bed. Like William's.

This is the second time in about four days that he has made this announcement. I think he's serious.

William never tried to climb out of his crib, so we kept him in the crib for an unusually long time. In fact, he got his big boy bed about a month before his third birthday. We actually kept the crib in his room for another nine months or so because we didn't want to get rid of it but didn't know where else to put it. But he got to sleep in a twin bed on the other side of the room. And oh, how he loved it.

Andrew doesn't exactly try to climb out of the crib, but he throws his leg over the rail so that William can easily tow him over and out. They started this little routine about a month or so ago. Mr. Social Butterfly gets up fairly early each morning, but apparently, he gets lonely. So he started venturing into his little brother's room and helping Andrew get down from his crib so he'd have someone to hang out with. Andrew now expects this.  David reported that this morning, Andrew wasn't messing around. He was issuing a royal demand, calling, "William! William Wyckoff! Come get me! William Wyckoff!"

I think the boy needs a big boy bed of his very own. I've notified him that he has to give up his nighttime binky once and for all when he moves into a big boy bed. I don't know if that's really sunk in. And I've told him that big boys also use the potty. I know that he knows that, but he is cheerfully content to stick to his own agenda on the potty-training front. Which is to say that he will do it on his own time. Whenever that may be. (Insert resigned eye-roll here.)

I'm totally fine with getting him a big boy bed, but there is a complicating factor at work now. When William gave up the crib, we knew we needed to hold onto the crib. We were planning to eventually have another baby. But Andrew is it for us. No more babies. We don't need to hang onto the crib anymore, but it's going to be very hard to get rid of it. It's a drop-side crib that we ordered from Albee Baby in early 2006. A few years ago, after William was finished with the crib, the Consumer Product Safety Commission began to ban drop-side cribs because of a series of infant deaths. Ours was never recalled. It was and is very sturdy. But the facts remain. We can't sell it or donate it. We basically just have to throw it away. And it's huge. How do you throw away something so large? (And also so nice. It really is a nice crib. I just hate to toss something that never gave us any trouble.) We investigated the possibility of getting a conversion kit, but apparently it's not so easy to procure that sort of thing seven years later. So, oh well. I wouldn't want someone to take a chance on it, obviously, so we will get rid of it.

So the plan is to haul my mother-in-law's second twin bed out of storage, try to polish it up a bit, and then buy a new mattress and linens for Andrew. And I guess we'll take apart the crib and find some way to get it to the junkyard.

Andrew wants sheets "like William's." William currently has Pottery Barn Kids sheets on his bed; he rotates between the National League baseball sheets, the American League baseball sheets, and the Star Wars sheets. Guess I'll take Andrew shopping sometime soon and let him pick out something.