Friday, February 27, 2009

sister love

It's a rainy Friday after a restless night. Ella's fever has broken but Naya's is still going strong. It's looking like we're not going anywhere so the morning called for a block city that covered the whole floor and lots of old school Sesame Street.My girls get so clingy when they are sick. They just want to be held for as long as I sit still. Ella acts like such a little mommy, and I smile watching her say, "It's okay sweetie, I'll make you feel bettuw, lemme check you wiv my medsin." as she tucks her doll blanket around Naya's neck. Sisters have such a special bond and Naya is comforted by Ella's presence by her side.
Their tender love for each other is a picture of how much we need people. Being a mom, or a wife, a friend, or a daughter is never easy all of the time. Our days pass in a journey of learning and failing, being disappointed, and humbled and slowly becoming. And it's messy and nobody has it all figured out. But we were never meant to go at it alone. I've been thinking about the importance of community alot this week. Maybe it was in the middle of the night on Tuesday when the girls in my small group left and I paused in the after-glow of the inspiration and encouragement and strength that I gleaned from listening to women, some younger and some older share their thoughts and their wisdom. These girls that meet in my home, some of whom I've met with for years, to pray,listen, meditate, read and hopefully grow together. They are not my biological sisters but I feel a sense of sisterhood with them. They are fellow travelers, like me with struggles and weaknesses but more importantly we are all in pursuit of the same thing, Jesus, and how to live the way he wanted us to and designed us to. We are on a pilgrimage to learn from the life and work of Jesus and to in some way reflect His glory. There is strength in numbers and I am so thankful for these women and their beautiful honesty.
I am also so thankful for my own two big sisters with whom I have so many memories tucked away, much like the ones I now see unfolding between my girls. It never ceases to amaze me how we never run out of things to talk about and how we get into laughing fits in ways nobody else seems to get and that probably make us look like a bunch of crazy people. I just feel so thankful for my sweet sisters and my girls group and for you, the blogging community and everyone else that offers me the gift of their friendship.

Oh and one more thing a lovely song for a rainy day,

and here are the words:

All day, since your haircut in the morning,
you have looked like a painting, even more than usual.
We are in the wind, planting the maples. We meet an older man who seems to know
I miss my dad.
And he smiles through the limbs.
We talk easily with him
until the rain begins.
This is the brotherhood of man.
Waiting at the airport on my suitcase,
a girl traveling from Spain became my sudden friend,
though I did not learn her name.
And when the subway dimmed
a stranger lit my way.
This is the brotherhood of man.
I never can say what I mean,
but you will understand,
coming through clouds on the way.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Spring and yellow and such

I had a birthday a little bit ago and for several days surrounding it we had some freakishly warm weather. The warm breath of Spring had the kids running around the yard barefoot and made me want to pull all the sun dresses and yellow from the wardrobes. It was just that warm right after being icy cold. That would have been enough to make me happy but on top of that Ella pushed open my door as I stood there in a towel with my hair wrapped up and said," Oh mommy, you are as cute as a bug." She also embarked on her first shop lifting venture, all in my name. We returned from a birthday breakfast at Cracker Barrel where Ella proudly presented from thieving little hands one tiny white plastic dish scrubber. Though I wasn't proud of my little robber, I could not help but smile at the innocence and sweet intentions behind the act. Oh, the hard lessons of life. Juden also told Josh that he wanted to give me a present, and when Josh said he could make something, he said he could buy me something with all of his birthday dollars. It's good to be loved.
Josh took me on a date which was perfect, art gallery, yummy Italian food, used book store and then to see Slumdog Millionaire. I don't want to spoil it, but I will say it was lovely. It moved me with compassion although I couldn't watch every scene as I don't do well with violence toward women or children. I loved the colors and the music and it prompted the subsequent purchase of this yellow scarf. It makes me feel like I have a little piece of sunshine even on the coldest day.

The cold has since returned and I love the way the veins of the trees stretch out through the wintry skies and the fireplace in my living room which lures me to sink a little longer reading The Pearl. But really that little taste of early Spring and the first blooms have left me with an appetite for less clothes and longer days. It seems like we've just passed around so many colds and after having laryngitis which left me whispering for days, I'm just getting a little impatient with winter. It turns out my voice really comes in handy especially with a house full of little people who must be responded to immediately, and directed and entertained and corrected all day long.I also discovered the phenomenon that when I could do nothing but whisper people instinctively whisper back. Lots of quiet conversations and strange looks...interesting. Even now my voice is so deep and raspy by the evening. And can I just say that I miss singing! I'm done with the 900 # jokes. I just want to sing again. Okay that was a tangent, what I wanted to say is that if you are one of my dear friends that has been afflicted by one cold or virus after another and you are just weary or lonely or discouraged, I feel your pain. This to shall pass. I remind myself that God will carry me through daily trials. How he lavishes us with love and good gifts. Seek those moments of joy and stillness in your day and drink them in. When the sun spills in your windows let it fill your soul. Whether you find some peace and comfort at the end of a pen, stringing words together, in the strokes of a paintbrush, the click of knitting needles, with hands sunk into the earth to garden, or loving the people around you, whatever is your task, do it fully. I want to sing, and create, and learn new crafts and grow things and build things and serve people in need. Now if only I wasn't so tired and free time, what is that? Oh yeah, I have three little kids and sometimes I wish I had five lives to do all the things I feel passionate about. But there will be time for that later. For this season, my task is clear and set before me, to nurture and teach and love the little ones I've been entrusted with. Nothing could be more important than to be a vessel for His love and grace. I find such deep joy in their trusting eyes and open arms. For now I'll enjoy the remnants of winter and savor the hints of new life and green peeking through here and there, while my loves explore the transtion with curious eyes and dimpled fingers. You'll have to excuse my sleepy rambling but my wine glass is empty and my pillow calls.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

goodbye one

To my darling who today turned two: We gave you an Indian name that means gentleness and we laughed when we saw you with all that black hair and I called you my little papoose. Your brother and sister loved you from the start and still do, but sometimes Ella squeezes you too tight. I love your dark chocolate eyes and the dimple in your chin and how you brush away the wispy hair that falls over your eye and your toothy smile. I love all the sentences you're saying and the puzzled slant of your eyes when you say,"Why Dada?" when he tells you something. You still come to me when you get hurt and say, "kit it" cause you want a kiss. Several times a day you say,"I yuv you mama," and it makes everything better. You are not shy,and when you are mad, you are not quiet about it. You love people and you have a sense of humor all your own. Your comfort habit in twirling a strand of your hair. You do it so much that you form little matted dreads on the back of your head. You tromp around the house with your little backpack on and rain boots, always somewhere to go. You love stories and making the hand motions for butterflies that Nana showed you. You are so proud of the painting you did above the mantle and you are sure to point at it and say,"I paint that." I love the ritual we have when I lay you down of songs and prayers and blowing kisses and how you giggle because you know just how it goes. You don't like your carrier or even the stroller anymore, you just won't have it. You have to walk with Juden and Ella of course. I wonder who you will become someday my precious daughter but for now you are my baby. So if you are sleepy or sad and want to just lay in my arms, I'll take every second. Happy Birthday my love.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

some days

Today was one of those days that I kind of wanted to linger in bed, curl up in a comfy chair with some chai and a good book. One of those days you kind of want to re-do and avoid some of the mistakes.
I awoke to discover that when I tried to speak I had the voice of an eighty year old smoker, meaning that what came out was about four octaves below normal and some words decided not to come out at all. Great,I guess I'll cancel the plans I already had a babysitter lined up for tonight. We all had breakfast and then I decided to get some errands out of the way. The day seemed to have it in for me from the start. Five minutes down the road I looked down underneath the diaper bag to see the emergency brake was on. I panicked a little wondering if I just destroyed the transmission and wondering how long it had been on. We arrived at the store where all of the kids seemed to be in rare form and a shopping trip which would usually have gone perfectly fine, was going down hill fast. Juden was lying on the bottom of the cart with limbs outstretched pretending to be a jet or something which is fine with me except for the girls behavior which was making the whole thing a spectacle. Ella couldn't decide whether she wanted to be in or out of the cart and was just generally whiny. Naya was yanking off her shoes and socks and suddenly developing a very runny nose. Meanwhile I was debating whether to just leave and waste a trip or try to finish as quickly as possible. I decided fairly quickly as Naya began to throw a little fit. Why is it that it's always in those moments that someone shoots you a look like you just pinched your child or a look that says, "Why can't you handle your children? " Naya screamed all the way out the store but I figured she'd stop in the car. It did not stop, and she was asking for things I didn't have and forgetting to breath between sobs. If you have ever experienced a child screaming for an extended period of time, you know it kind of makes you want to bang your head against a wall. What's worse I could not console her at all because I could barely speak so she couldn't hear me. I was thinking she must be getting sick or have a sore ear because this is not typical of Naya. Then I heard Juden talking in my ear saying that he wishes Naya would stop crying so that he can concentrate on the music. Wait a minute talking in my ear? What? So now I'm driving down the highway with a check engine light on, a screaming baby and a five year old who apparently couldn't take it anymore so he unbuckled himself.
I arrived home to find that some neighborhood dogs had found our trash can and spread it along the side of the house. There were a few other things which I will keep to myself, besides now I'm sounding just as whiny as my kids. As trivial as these little things are they left me with frayed nerves, and my words to my family weren't as kind as they should have been. My list of things to do was nagging at me and I was feeling ineffective in all of my roles. Things settled down and I talked to God and tried to lay my feelings of defeat down. Being a mama requires so much patience and selflessness that I often don't have enough of. I am so thankful that my Father sees and takes care me,forgiving me over and over, gently growing me and breathing words of gentleness and kindness into me when I feel I have nothing left to give.
Now the day is ending, lullabies begun and the baby girl sleeps. I'm not wanting to bang my head against a wall anymore. I'm listening to this amazing song and writing, a better choice, I think. I cleared my head on a little walk, lifting eyes to the comfort of the mild skies. Taking comfort in these verses, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ~Matthew 11:28-30~ I love how he invites us to come, just like he lifted the child into his lap that the disciples had rebuked. He cares even about my trite circumstances and disappointments in myself. You know how quickly things pile up when kids are around. The piles of laundry and toys that are always needing to find a place are also symbols of all the people that fill this home and make my life so rich. We eat and play and laugh and argue and forgive and create and there are signs of it everywhere. It's as it should be. As a mom you have triumphs and heart aches. It's both that shape us and make us realize how blessed we are to have these little ones who need us so much. And it's okay to not be on top of things all the time, and maybe even better to sit at Jesus' feet and be still, to listen, to love.

*Okay, I got a little sidetracked but I'm back the next day to add some pictures.*

People were bringing little children
to Jesus to have him touch them,
but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this,
he was indignant.
He said to them,
"Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of God
belongs to such as these.
I tell you the truth,
anyone who will not receive
the kingdom of God
like a little child
will never enter it."
And he took the children
in his arms, put his hands on them
and blessed them.

Mark 10:13-16

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

soap making

Recently a friend of mine who makes soap invited us to come and watch and join in the process. I always wonder about where things come from. I just like to know the journey, the process, the origin of things I use and consume everyday. I think I've always been like this. I can remember with absurd clarity the parts of Sesame Street and Mr Rogers that showed the factories and the process of making crayons or the process of making trombones and saxophones. I was fascinated by how things were created.
Laura, who has a flare for chemistry and precision (and who shares my shower fetish), walked us through the process. Soap initially was something people made themselves using animal fats but now coconut, palm,avocado,olive and other plant-derived oils are used which are better for our skin. It is not very complicated except that measurements and temperatures need to be exact. It is basically a process of combining fats or oils with Lye(Sodium Hydroxide) that causes a reaction called saponification which produces soap.
I must admit, I mostly watched and snapped pretty sights,and helped in the long stirring process. After all the stirring, the hot butter-colored soap is poured into the mold where it hardens and is cut. It was a nice way to spend the morning, chatting away to the scent of essential oils,which was so relaxing probably because of the sub-conscious reminder of a heavenly massage I was given after giving birth.
Despite all of our modern conveniences there is something fulfilling about sharing time with people while creating and producing something, even little things we take for granted. It's also nice to know exactly what you are lathering into your skin.

Voila! Lavender, peppermint soap all ready to harden. The smell is just scrumptious.

Monday, February 02, 2009


The boy turned five today and my heart is full.
I realized that for the past five years I've known his mood every single day, and watched him grow and change. First the physical connection of carrying him, giving birth to him and feeding him, then the gradual independence of his first steps. Thousands of times I've corrected him, read to him,laughed with him, kissed him. I know the changes will be rapid in this continual process of letting go in little ways. But for now I am so thankful that these five years have been so intertwined, and that I am able to spend my days at home loving him. I am the recipient of his unending questions, and of his generous affection. His excitement about things brings a smile everyday. I just turned around from where I am typing to see Juden creeping through the living room dressed up like a cross between a pirate and a crazy woodsman with orange sun-glasses announcing in a gruff and commanding tone, "Quiet Ella, we're going to fight the bears in the forest of Africa."
I feel so blessed to be the chest he falls on, in a worn-out heap at the end of his days, pink faced and smelling like grass and sunshine.
Happy birthday baby.