Tag Archives: family

My Fault…

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I thought I could go back to bed and lie there for a bit without incident. So, technically, I suppose it was my fault. But I heard everyone helping each other get breakfast. It sounded peaceable.

So, forty glorious minutes later I walk out. The weather’s perfect. It’s sunny. Even the introvert in me is charmed.

“Let’s go to the park,” I say, “Shoes on.”

At this moment in the hallway the little guy passes me holding a spoonful of milky cereal in front of his belly and marching into his bedroom. Curious, I follow him. Then I watch as he stops, calculates, throws said cereal onto the carpet, touches one foot on top of it delicately as if to evaluate his success and turns, I’m assuming, in order to get more.

Well, I stop that nonsense and on the way to the kitchen with the spoon I notice several other arrangements of cereal on the floor and realize this is an installation piece, probably entitled “Scourge of My Mother”. There is also one very wet towel lying in a square on the floor.

“Hey guys? What’s with the wet towel? Did he have an accident?”

“No, Mom, he spilled a cup of milk,” said the eldest.

“He did it on purpose. And it was my milk,” said the girl.

Mixed media.

(There are many moments like this when I’m glad I don’t have a nice place. I can’t stand how my kids treat my two-bedroom rental. What on earth would I do if they treated my dream-house this way?!)

I proceed into the kitchen. And the baby has tried to make a smoothie.

Here is a picture of that baby:

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I sigh and scrap my plans for the park. I place the baby in the tub (the only place he will remain contained) and wipe counters, do dishes, unload dishwasher so I can load dishes, start laundry from last night’s pee debacle(another long story), scrub and baking soda a square of carpet, sweep the kitchen, vacuum and four hours later it’s nap time and I’m sucking down coffee and eating some Go Diego Go cereal. For some subliminal reason I wanted some.

The first baby, that’s not anyone’s fault. You’re naive; you’ve never had a baby. You don’t know. The second one, well, that’s not technically your fault either. You and your husband have seven siblings between you. Let’s blame family culture. But three, well- the third one’s on you. You asked for three. This is on you.

Ash Wednesday…

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The older I get the more I love the liturgy of the Christian calendar.

A few years ago I began exploring ways to add significance to Lent for my small children, but I wasn’t sure I really understood it myself, and then we moved, blah blah blah.

Since then I’ve been circling this idea of a tactile box for the Lenten season with accompanying lessons.

Yesterday, I actually wrote it all out! Whoop!

So, today we will begin and I’ll be posting the lessons here for your perusal or use as you so desire. There are twelve lessons. They go from Ash Wednesday, through the six Sundays of Lent and through the last five days of Holy Week.

Tonight, before we go off to Ash Wednesday service I will place a pie plate on the table and fill it with sand. I will have my son place a cross in the sand and have my daughter place a piece of ash. We will then take turns drawing a winding path from the ash to the cross as we talk about Jesus. And we will read about how Jesus knew his life would lead to death on a cross even before he became a little baby.

Here is the lesson if you want to join us! Feel free to share!

2/18 Ash Wednesday: Leaving Heaven

Where to find it:
A Child’s First Bible by Kenneth N. Taylor: p.174
Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones: p.170 “Get Ready”, p.144 “Operation ‘No More Tears’”
Bible: Philippians 2:5-11

Reading:
Today is Ash Wednesday and the first day of a season on the Christian calendar that we call Lent. On Ash Wednesday all around the world adults and children go to church and get an ash cross smudged on their foreheads. When the priest or pastor draws the cross he says, “From ashes you have come and to ashes you will return.” We say this to remember that God created Adam from the dust. It also reminds us that humans die and turn back to dust. During Lent we remember the time when Jesus gave up heaven to come to Earth as a human. Jesus knew that becoming human would mean he would have to die. Even before he became a little baby, from way up in heaven he could see that his life would lead to the cross.

Lent box activity:
Place the container on the table already filled with sand. Tell your family that you are taking a Lenten journey and remembering the time when Jesus was a human man. Have someone place the cross in the sand because at the beginning of the journey Jesus already knew that’s how it would end. Have someone place the piece of ash in the sand. Take turns drawing a path with your finger from the ash to the cross.

Beginning questions:
• Where was Jesus before he was a human baby? (John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”)
• Where is Jesus now? (Hebrews 12:2 “…and is seated on the right hand of the throne of God.”)
• What sort of things in heaven do you think Jesus had to give up to come to Earth as a little baby?

More questions (for older kids!):
• Did Jesus know that if he became human he would have to die?
• Did God know when he sent his son Jesus to be a baby that he would grow and one day die?
• What choices do we have every day to do the will of the Father?

Family Question:
Just as Jesus gave up heaven to obey God and come to Earth so that we could be close to God, what do we give up to be closer to God?

Family Activity:
Think and pray until Sunday about what if any activity or behavior, you could give up or add as a family to be closer to God this Lenten season.

Pray as a family:
“Our Father in heaven, we thank you for loving us so much that you would send your son away from you in order to rescue us. Jesus, we thank you that you would love your Father and us so much that you would become a human man and rescue us. We thank you for your time on Earth and ask that you bring us closer to you during this period of Lent. Amen.”

Family Game Night…

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Norman Rockwell always makes it look good, doesn’t he? He draws the family eating and, yes, someone’s feeding the dog under the table and, yes, someone’s getting awkwardly squished between a couple of over affectionate great-aunts, but it’s lovely, because it’s … what? Beautiful? Americana? Reality? Well, allow me to play Norman Rockwell for a moment and paint you the picture of our evening.

James and I ran some errands with the kids this afternoon. We hit five stores in an hour and a half so, really, we were doing quite well.

We even managed to get home at the right time to start dinner. Of course, as any mother of small children will tell you, there is no right time to start dinner. In my experience it is impossible to get food in the mouth of a child before they are “starving”. It is actually hopeless because whenever you start cooking, they will still smell the cooking before it is done.

But, I was doing ok. I was cooking. I was cleaning as I went along. To be sure, there was a LOT of screaming going on in the background, a few time-outs were being doled, but it was mostly out of the kitchen if not behind sound proof doors. And then, my eighteen month old has learned how to move the stools around. So now, you turn around and when you turn back there’s a baby trying to stir the pot or pull the knife into his face, for example. Basically I was Shiva in the kitchen this evening trying to have three arms to baby’s two.

And then I snapped. I yelled. My husband got the ol’ “Why aren’t you in here helping me?!?!?!” bit. I honestly can’t remember passing the point where I realized I needed help. I went straight from “I got this” to “I needed your help five minutes ago”, straight there.

So dinner began with Mom delivering a four point apology:

“I’m sorry I snapped.”

“It was wrong because no matter how angry I am I should still speak to you with respect.”

“In the future I will try to recognize my breaking point before I get there and take a deep breath before I speak.”

“Will you forgive me?”

Everyone said yes. It seemed to me that my husband said it rather smugly, but that’s probably just me.

So then we decide to ice the cake, so to speak, and make it a family game night.

My six-year-old picks Blockus, a fantastic game requiring four players and about a zillion tiny pieces.

It was a bit of a disaster. The eighteen month old was continually wedging himself into any portion of empty chair he could find and diving at the board. We were pushing chairs in and passing water glasses across the table in a sort of baby avoidance dance we are rather practiced in at this point of our marriage. After about eight rounds the baby slowly picked up a piece and when I went to take it away he released it, dove for the board and finally succeeded in casting the pieces asunder.

As we pulled him away he yelled something sounding very much like, “Attack!”

We began again. My four-year-old was losing interest fast which was fine because she was basically using a kamikaze strategy that was not doing anyone any favors. My son began to get upset that he was being blocked during a game of BLOCK-US. And I end up playing with the baby sitting on my shoulders. I think he ate the bobby pin out of my hair because I can’t find it anywhere.

The game ended rather abruptly when a moment of frustration from my eldest child sent the pieces asunder for the second time almost an hour after we had first begun our bold strike for family togetherness.

We put the kids to bed after that. That was forty minutes ago. The baby keeps grabbing the blinds and making the most spectacular sound slapping them around, which has the others cracking up. We’ve gone in there three times already.

I was hoping by the end of this blog, they’d be done…

Nope. Here goes Dad. He’s putting an end to my daughter’s singing. Oh, now she’s crying.

“What is she crying about?” I ask when he comes out.

“She wants to go to sleep,” he shakes his head, and smiling a little adds, “At least we’re all going for the same thing.”

Thanksgiving…

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We had a pretty great Thanksgiving.

I have never given much thought to how fortunate we are as a family to get along so well. We seem to have our little problems like everyone else.  But, listening to my adult friends talk about the stiffness and distance in relation to their siblings has made me realize of late how lucky we are.  We have been described by someone who has seen us all together as a giant basket of puppies, tumbling all over each other.

There were five of us, but now there are eight.  And we are fortunate that our spouses find us all as loveable as we do.  The other two endure much ribbing when charged to marry as well.

To be sure, none of us are very practiced at being decisive.  This, however, usually results in the harmless activity of very long mornings at the coffee shop chasing around the kiddos.

There was the last minute dash on Wednesday evening for the exact kind and type of rolls that were wanted for Thursday and a call to my sister to make sure she was doubling the usual amount of broccoli casserole. Some of the elders have moved on to buying their contributions, some of the youngers have moved on to trying their hands at baking the family dishes.

At Thanksgiving dinner there were more of us eating dinner than there were chairs in the house, a discovery that wasn’t made until Thanksgiving morning.  But the largeness of my aunt’s heart that would have us all and invite more regardless, leant us the extra square footage.

My great uncle can’t hear very well anymore and his hearing aids lend him insufficient support to participate much in conversation.  But he still carves the turkey and leads the family prayer as he has since I was a little girl.

We are quirky, have our long histories, and, inevitably, we tease middle brother to his breaking point at least once.

There were tired babies and one hyper six year old boy that got out of hand tackling the uncles.

There were aero-beds, pack-n-plays, and a grandma still limber enough to sleep on a couch to no ill effect.

There was the obligatory flash mob as we crashed eighteen year-old cousin’s Black Friday workplace and told him loudly that his mother loved him.

Some of us paid for coffees, some of us paid for pizza, and some of us brought the drinks.

And, yes, it took us eleven hours to make the seven hour drive home to San Francisco from Pasadena, and, yes, there was a pee accident in a car seat, but, hey, at least no one got car sick.

So, we were glad to go and glad to get back and, all-in-all, I am very, very thankful to have learned from youth this familial grace that believes the best and honors all.  I am glad, too, that I get a chance to do it in my own little family, growing people, growing memories, growing family legacies, and doing it a little bit better so they can do it better, too.

I hope you all find yourselves this week with plates full of juicy morsels of thanksgiving with leftovers besides.

Our Weekend…

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I’m going to give you a little bit of my weekend in pictures.

Baker Beach

Baker Beach

I’m not sure how I’m feeling. There’s a flurry of excitement when James is actually there for dinner on Friday night and, suddenly, that long off dream of us sitting around a table as a family is a reality. I have my space and my family right here.

View from the Legion of Honor

View from the Legion of Honor

There’s a lot of stuffing into the weekend everything it can hold from views to flavors. I have the tourist’s list in my mind of things I want to do and see, checking myself when I think of wasting a moment of time on something we’ve already done.

Mammoth Park

I find myself listening to my own voice frequently saying, “You live here. It’s ok. You live here.”

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

My husband bought me a membership to an art museum. He held it cupped in his hands and delivered it like a fledgling to its mother. My daughter wept over opera music. My son told me exactly why he liked a beautiful fauvist art piece, pulling out every hidden color. There were hot dogs in the park, French onion soup in the café, and the wide flat Pacific.

Art Show in front of the DeYoung Museum

Art Show in front of the DeYoung Museum

How long will it take for me to comprehend that I’m staying?

Golden Gate Park

And the views I can get within a ten minute walk from my house suck the breath right out of me.

Presidio

Pinch me; I think I may be dreaming.