Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Whoa, Nelly!

To the best of my knowledge, 9 year old boys are supposed to be interested in Legos, bike riding, knives and fire. Joey fits into this category perfectly, showing a healthy interest in all of these things.

9 year old boys are NOT supposed to be interested in girls, nor girls in them. No way, no how. That simply must be quite a few years down the road. I am so convinced of this basic truth that I have not spent even one minute thinking about what unique parenting challenges a development in this area might bring.

(It is at this point in my rant that I am going to choose to ignore that fact that girls and boys were quite interested in each other in my own fourth grade class way back when.)

As sure as I am that I have my facts straight, I nonetheless have begun to notice that Joey is, in fact, interested in girls and they, in fact, are interested in him.

A few days ago, a girl called Joey and they talked for, I kid you not, two hours and twenty minutes. ABOUT WHAT?! I have no idea. I was so flabbergasted by the entire episode that I couldn't even decide whether I should allow this. All I know is that he was positively beaming as he carried the phone around the house, trying to escape the curious ears of his siblings and the panicked, deer-in-headlights gaze of his mother.

About a week before this, tweenage girls at Julia's gymnastics class were actually tossing their hair and giggling at him as he waited for his sister. He now wants to come with me to every one of her classes.

What the heck is going on here? Has the world begun to spin backwards?

My emotions about this are mixed. One one hand, I am happy to see the obvious confidence and pleasure that this is giving him. One the other hand, I am fighting the urge to stuff him in a closet and not allow him to see the light of day for the next ten years.

Obviously, there will be no girlfriends and no dating allowed for many, many, MANY years. But what about all the stuff in between? Can he talk to them on the phone when they call? Can he sit with them at church functions? Can he suddenly become my most consistent tag-along at his sisters' activities?

Jay and I have some quick thinking to do here. Yikes!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Isabella

One year ago today we met you for the first time, but it seems as if we've known you forever. You came into our family as if there had never been a time when you weren't here. The joy you bring to us all is immeasurable!

* * *

We celebrated Isabella's birthday at the Knights of Columbus Fish Fry, the place where you can find us every Friday during Lent. Isabella is the first of our children to be born in our not-so-new-anymore community, so it seemed only fitting to celebrate her in the midst of it. I'm very glad we did!

This is only the second time I've had a child reach his or her first birthday without already knowing another baby was on the way. Perhaps for this reason, I am feeling the loss of her babyhood very acutely. The year seems to have flown by and already I cannot remember how she was when she was tiny. This is compounded by her impending weaning--I am going away for three nights this upcoming weekend, which will bring a natural close to her nursing. It is the great irony of a mother's life that we get through the most difficult days of babyhood by reassuring ourselves that it will someday end. Yet, when it does indeed end we long to turn back the clock. How important it is to live in the moment with our young children, because there aren't nearly enough of those moments to last a lifetime.

* * *

Happy 1st birthday, my baby-no-more. I am so very glad you are here! Though I may be sad to see my baby disappear, I am more than compensated by the delight of knowing the toddler that has taken her place.

Monday, February 18, 2008

These Pirates Really Don't Do Anything

Lindsey and I went to see the newest Veggie Tales movie tonight called The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. I hadn't heard much, if anything, about this movie, but I am well familiar with the Veggie Tales franchise and knew pretty much what to expect.

The movie was cute, as most Veggie Tales material is, and it had a nice message about finding your inner hero. However, to my surprise, God was not mentioned at all in the movie. Rather, there was a king figure that said he was always with them, showing them the way. I suppose he was symbolic of God, but if this representation was a stretch for me, I am certain that not one kid figured it out.

Now, I am not one who dislikes secular media as a general rule and I certainly don't feel that every movie has to have an overt Christian message. But I expected it from Veggie Tales and was disappointed to find it missing. Has Veggie Tales sold out in an effort to be more broadly appealing? I sure hope not.

Is it just me, or did anyone else notice this omission?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Smoothing the Edges

As a mother of many, I feel as if I must constantly prove that I can "handle it". The last thing in the world I want is for someone to look at me and think it is irresponsible of me to have so many kids because I am doing such a poor job of caring for them.

As far as character flaws go, this might be my worst (though by no means not my only) one. Of course, God knows this. Therefore, in what I'm sure is a loving attempt to rid me of this flaw, He often sends me opportunities to work on my pride. And, boy, did He send me a doozy today.

Julia started a new gymnastics school this afternoon. Although I loved her old one and felt very comfortable and welcome there, she had become bored with her class, which moved more slowly than she would have liked. Therefore, I brought her to a new, reputedly more fast paced, gym where she could be more challenged and go more times per week.

Knowing that this was a more "serious" gym, I prepped the kids before our first visit. I wasn't sure what it would be like and I didn't want to show up like the Beverly Hillbillies. So, I made sure everyone knew what was expected, I wiped off faces, found clean clothes and gave out a general list of acceptable behaviors.

At the gym, all went fairly well. Aside from Tony falling off the low bleacher in the first 5 minutes and ending up with a lump the size of Omaha on the back of his head, we blended in pretty well. The owner was very welcoming and I felt immediately comfortable. This was not to last long, however.

At the end of class, I gave Julia her shoes, gathered up Tony and Isabella, counted heads and went out the door to the car. I loaded the kids, paused to search for someone's missing shoes, changed someone, and altogether spent somewhere around 10 minutes getting settled. Just as I sat down and buckled myself in, I saw the owner coming toward the car with a sobbing Julia. She explained that Julia had been left inside, didn't know where I was, and had been sitting on her lap crying for the 10 minutes I had been settling in the car.

Unbelievably, I had not even noticed that Julia was not with us.

In my defense (if there is any defense at all for this), I had not left the parking lot, and I am sure that I would have noticed she were missing before I drove off. I always take a mental inventory of the children when I leave somewhere, and I'm sure I would have done so this time as well. But I never got the chance because she found me first.

The owner, previously so friendly and welcoming, was cold now. I felt not only terrible for Julia, whom I had frightened, but, selfishly, for myself as well. This lady, who had only just met me, was judging my parenting ability and I came up way, way short. Here I was, hoping to make a good impression and establish a long, solid relationship with a new gym. Instead, I left the owner incredulous that someone could actually be such a horrible parent. How totally humiliating.

I am dreading the next class. Should I explain myself? Hide behind oversized sunglasses? Go in with my head held high? Retreat to our old gym with my tail between my legs?

Whatever I decide to do, my pride has certainly been beaten back a bit. A few dozen more episodes like this one and perhaps I will be cured of my terrible affliction. And, hopefully, I won't actually lose one of the children in process.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Inexperienced Fairies Please Fly By

When the tooth fairy arrived at Sam's bed tonight, this is what she saw:

Tony had climbed into bed with Sam and wedged him completely off his pillow. Now it was Tony's head on top of the tooth Sam had left...and the fairy had to pass underneath both heads to get the right location.

Tricky stuff, to be sure.

Luckily, the fairy at our house has had some experience and deftly flew in, took care of business, and even snapped a photo on the way out. Good thing she has an inflated view of her own skills, because this could have gone terribly, terribly wrong. If she had thought it through, she might not have attempted this level of difficulty.

Definitely not a job for the fainthearted fairy.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

11 Months Old Already

I had to post this photo, as this is the perspective from which I most often see Isabella. That is my leg she is clinging to, and this is where she most often is. Holding my pant leg while I load the dishwasher, rotate the laundry, brush my teeth, fix dinner, whatever I happen to be doing.

My little cling-on. My constant companion.

How I will miss her when she is no longer at my feet. For it won't be long now until she is off and running, no longer content to stick by my side.