Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween still makes me smile

I love Halloween.

I do not love to be scared. (Please never jump out at me unless you want me to pee my pants and possibly utter a few choice words.) So I don't love the really scary or gory costumes. My boys will never wear a Freddy or a Scream mask.

But I love pumpkins and costumes and trick-or-treating. I love the planning of what to be and the anticipation of collecting the candy. I love how excited Bubby was about it this year all. month. long.

Some of my best childhood memories were Halloween. Almost every year my mom made my costumes, my favorite being the two years I dressed up as Snow White. Thanksgiving and Christmas are pretty screwed up for divorced kids, but I do not think I have ever cried on Halloween. Even with things how they stand right now with my father, I still think fondly of all of the years he traipsed around half of the Quad Cities with my brother and I and our pillowcases for every minute available for trick-or-treating.

This year my boys were Captain Hook and Peter Pan. We did the zoo last week and the library this morning.  We trick-or-treated at the mall tonight. Then we hit up our local mega church for their big party (However we didn't stay there long because I am not a fan of my kids on inflatables when they are still at an age where I may have to climb on there with them.) On top of that, I think we have instituted a new tradition - pizza after trick-or-treating.

I know many people disagree with me on this holiday, and that is fine. To each their own. I struggle with Santa ,and other people do not. I will never do Elf on the Shelf, but I may figure out how to add The Great Pumpkin somehow next year. The four of us had a lot of fun this week, and I also have a bag full of candy on my kitchen counter. Win-win. Halloween remains one of my favorite days.

Oh, and I'm already taking suggestions for next year's costumes.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

"Joey wasn't my friend today. He only wanted to be friends with Hunter. And they were friends with Ryan but not with me."*

This tumbled out of Bubby's mouth on the ride home from preschool, and my heart broke.  Somehow I thought being a mom of boys I was going to get a pass on this kind of thing. I also thought this didn't start until at least kindergarten. Apparently I was wrong.

He didn't dwell on it, though he did mention I had him wear the wrong shoes today. Therefore he wasn't fast in the gym for indoor recess. (For the record I sent him, as always, in tennis shoes.) I don't know if the gym and the friend thing are related or not. Bubby's four. It's hard to tell. Thankfully he moved on pretty quickly to tell me all of the things he learned about bugs and spiders today. ("Spiders are arachnids. Bugs have fuzzy things." ... not sure what that means.)

I have known since before my boys were born that I would be unable to protect them from everything. But as they keep growing, I am learning I didn't realize how much it would hurt to not be able to do that.

I would chop off my legs if it would enable them to run faster or better. I would go through the rest of my life friendless if it would mean my children wouldn't have to be rejected or left out. 

*Names have been changed.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

But I don't want to be a pirate!

These are my sweet boys barely sitting still on the couch for a picture.  We were headed to an early night of trick-or-treat at the zoo.

What this picture doesn't really show:

  • The pain-in-the-butt it can  be to put young children into costumes
  • Me trying not to get frustrated with the lack of cooperation/skill my children had at putting on costumes
  • The layers of pajamas and sweatpants underneath the costumes to keep them warm (Why can't we move trick-or-treat to September when the weather is not so cold?)
  • Us in the backyard a little bit earlier with two little boys who just wanted to play with their hats and swords and me frustrated with my semi-broken camera
  • Bugaboo saying, "Take it off!" when we put on the puffy shirt (and later the hat) of his costume
I'm not saying these things to complain but rather to keep in perspective that behind every adorable picture there is sometimes a family that was a little frazzled trying to get that picture.  Sometimes I get so fixated on making a memory with my family that I almost miss actually making a memory with my family. The lack of pictures could have ruined my night.  

But by the grace of God I was eventually able to suck it up and enjoy walking around a zoo in 40 degree weather. The Hubs pushed Peter Pan and Captain Hook around in a sit-n-stand stroller. We collected about twenty pieces of candy. We discovered the boys like Smarties which means more chocolate for mommy (win-win). At the end of the night Bubby declared, "Everybody LOVED my costume!" because when you're four the world is a magical place that sometimes feels like it is all about you.  And sometimes that is exactly how it needs to be. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday, Monday

I want to remember this Monday, not because it was outstanding and not because it was horrible. I want to remember today because it was ordinary in the most delightful way.

The boys slept in - Bubby slept in so long and hard that he didn't even hear Bugaboo playing with toys in their shared room.  He shuffled out of their room in his footie jammies after nine o'clock and asked, "What's going on?" We hurried to Aldi to do grocery shopping before a promised donut to the boys if they were good. Two out of three of us wore SuperHero hoodies complete with capes. I have to say there is nothing quite like buckling Batman into his carseat, with his eye-holes down past his nose.

At store number two I forgot the toilet paper I needed to buy, and there were no driving carts for the boys.  The meltdown was avoided until we got home, after which Bubby ended up on the rug for general sassy-ness and his new habit of spitting. It is always odd to have to discipline my child who acts exactly like me, even down to the way I could see him wanting to throw his shoe off while he was on the rug. I was a big shoe thrower back in my childhood. I can actually remember the way it would sail across my bedroom to hit the door.  Bubby was slowed down by his four year old coordination, and I stifled a laugh as I saw his plan of shoe-throwing thwarted. (For the record he inherited much of his personality - good and bad - from me. Sassy-ness? That's me. But the spitting? No idea.)

At one point today the dog came to the backdoor with a feather in her mouth. However, I did not find a bird anywhere in the yard.  For that I am thankful (I think). The rest of the day carried on as usual: Laundry folding. Lunch making. A half-done easy art project. General mess cleaning up. An after lunch movie and lots of Duplo and train playing.

I made an apple crisp while the boys were occupied. We may have chosen to have that for dinner before soccer practice, and saved the pasta I made until right before bedtime. I pushed the sit-and-stand stroller loaded down with two boys, a lawn chair, a blanket, a soccer ball, and my purse across a school playground and field and then back to the car again after practice and called that today's workout.

Not every day is like this one, I know. But maybe there are more days like this one every week. I just need to take the time to notice them.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

theology of a four year old (and a little bit from the two year old)

  • Bubby was telling us that after David killed Goliath he licked him. We were very confused about what in the world he was talking about, but Bubby was adamant. He said to The Hubs, "Daddy, let me show you in the Bible," and turned to the page in his Beginner's Bible. There is an (age-appropriate) illustration of a  dead Goliath with his tongue sticking out -- therefore Bubby interpreted that as licking.

  • In the car Bubby loves when the radio plays 10,000 Reasons. He will sing at top of his lungs and then ask, "What's a soul?" almost every time.
  • Any conversation where the word death comes up, Bubby informs us that "Jesus died on the cross." 
  • Last month in Bubby's Sunday school class he learned about Adam and Eve. Lately when I overhear him playing with Legos or trains I hear him saying, "You will surely die," to the characters in his play. I never realized how much death there was in the Bible/Christianity until I had a preschooler.  
  • After a discussion about a friend's birthday party, Bubby prayed, "Help it to be my birthday so I can get presents."
  • After hearing the story about Jesus washing the disciples feet, Bubby remarked, "I wouldn't want to wash my feet in a basin. I like taking a bath."
  • Tonight's prayer, "Thank You for Buzz Lightyear. Thank You for Woody. Help me to be more like You."
Not to be outdone, here is Bugaboo "reading" from the Bible. Or as he calls it "The B-L-B-L-B."

And here is just a cute pumpkin picture. It has nothing to do with this post. I just like it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

a reflection on King Saul (a.k.a. in which I feel moved to exhort and pray)

For the past several months our church has gone through 1 Samuel. What I really appreciate about our pastor is he takes a book and goes through it chapter by chapter - not skipping over verses that are hard or confusing or that make us uncomfortable. It is hard to take notes when you have a four year old sitting next to you in service, but thankfully I am auditory learner. So I retain enough if I've had a coffee on the way to church.

I don't think I really knew much about King Saul until recently. Sunday school lessons on flannel graphs focused on Samuel being called as a child, on David killing Goliath, and on David fleeing King Saul.  I knew King Saul was not a great guy, but that was about it.  I got to know him over the summer and early fall every Sunday morning.  And honestly his story is depressing, but it shows you what unrepentance will do.

King Saul didn't do some things God wanted him to do and did some things God didn't want him to do. And then he lied about it.  I read and reread the whole account in 1 Samuel 15 and I just cringe. My stomach churns because he lies to a prophet saying, "I have obeyed the voice of the Lord."

When he gets called on it King Saul is sorry that he has gotten caught, he is sorry that he is losing God's favor, but he is not sorry about his sin. He doesn't change his ways. He just wants to make things right enough to some how get something from God again without having to truly repent and obey.

There is a really sad verse at the end of chapter fifteen. "And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death,  And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel, but Samuel grieved over Saul."

Samuel grieved over Saul. Samuel was not out to get Saul. Samuel did not take joy in calling him out. Samuel was grieved by the lack of change in Saul.

I read this and I want to tell Saul, "Just repent. God has grace. There may still be consequences for your sin, but seriously dude - just be truly sorry and change - God will give you grace." But Saul's pride gets in his way. His fear of people was greater than his fear of God.

I don't do a lot of praying on my blog, but sometimes that is the only way to have the words for all of the thoughts swirling around in my head.

Dear Jesus, 

You know my heart is broken for the situations where there is fear of people instead of You. For those who want comfort, an easy fix, a way out- break hearts because I think on some level they do feel bad, but not bad enough to ask You to help them change. Bring them to their knees and empower them to do the tough things that You require of Your followers.

And bring me to my knees. Keep me grieved so that I will continue to pray and not grow apathetic. Keep my heart fixed on you. Break my heart with the things that break yours. Keep me dependent on your grace, and by your Spirit give me the strength to not live in remorse but more than that to live a life of repentance.

May we never forget that You are not fooled by our works, our outward appearance, our church attendance or what others may say about us. Our sacrifice means nothing to You if we are not obeying, but we cannot obey on our own efforts. Thank You that You will change us if we give up the things we hold dear for the things You purchased for us by Your blood.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

There's My girl!

From a section in my BSF lecture notes from today:

By grace Jesus can look at me and say, "There's My girl! There's My glory!" because God will give me His supernatural strength to do what does not come naturally

"There's My girl! There's My glory!" It about brought me to tears right there in the pew.

I could see and almost feel God put His arm around me in that statement.   

"Oh what love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are." 1 John 3:1

The love I have for my children gives me just a glimpse of the type of love God has for me. I have realized this for a few years now, but sometimes it strikes me in new and unexpected ways. The other day I took the boys to the park to let them run around and play and to take their pictures because I love my time with them. I love just watching them enjoy life. I post pictures of them, blog about them, share the things they do and say because I love them. Because they are mine. They are my boys.

I don't know if I am making sense, but I wanted to write it down because it makes sense to me. And it is important to me. "There's  My girl!" keeps ringing in my ears. Another piece of my heart is healing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

what the pumpkin pictures tell me

The days are long, but the years are short. That is what they told me.

And the days ARE long. But how is it possible that this is Bubby's FIFTH year to get pumpkins? So clearly they were right. The years are short.

(Side note- It is easy to see which years which boys were cooperative for group and individual photos.)

Each year I say, "These are my favorite ages." Then the next year comes, and I love those ages just as much. And as much as I love that my children sleep through the night and one of them is potty-trained and semi-independent, there is a part of me that misses the sweetness that comes with babyhood.

I love these two so incredibly much. Words will never describe my love for them.

Excuse me while I go cry a little bit .Tomorrow I'll post some fall pictures I took of the boys with my semi-broken camera.

(Side note: There were also parts of babyhood that made me think I was going to lose. my. mind. But I don't see the lose my mind moments in these pictures. I just see sweetness. Luckily, I blogged some of my lose my mind moments so that I won't forget.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

I am (pretty sure I am) a Jesus Feminist

In the last year I have become a reformed Southern Baptist.  I love my local church. I agree with most of it's doctrines and teachings.  But the tension in my own life has not gone away as I still wrestle with questions on marriage and ministry and roles and submission.  Sarah Bessey is one of my favorite bloggers. I don't agree with everything she says, but I love the way I see her heart in her words. And I am looking forward to reading her book this November to see if it eases any of the tension I feel on the topic of feminism and the Church.

Jesus Feminist definition

I struggle with the idea of labeling myself, but when I read her definition I found myself thinking, that is me.

  • I am a Reformed Southern Baptist with Pentecostal tendencies.
  • I am a stay-at-home mom who knows without a doubt that this is my calling for this season.
  • I am the one who heard too many times the phrase "femi-nazi" on my dad's radio.
  • I am the girl who vowed in the '90s to vote for Hillary Clinton someday, but who as an adult realized my political beliefs are pretty much polar opposite to Hillary's.
  • I am tired of hearing I read too much into Galatians 3:28.
  • I am weary of loud people - men or women -  demanding things under the name of Christ - when Christ came as a humble servant never demanding anything.
  • I respect my church's beliefs on women in ministry even if I do not personally agree with them. I choose to be a part of my local church because of so many other things I do agree with there and because of their heart for the Gospel.
  • I believe in my friends who are called into ministry - who are gifted to preach and teach and serve - and who happen to be female.
  • I am raising two boys to not believe men or women are better than each other - to believe that we are equal and that when we follow Christ it is not about us any more. 
  • I struggle with the belief some have that women can't lead in the church but they can lead in other places.
  • I am scared to use the word feminist because of all of the negative things it conjurs up in my mind.
  • I'm still learning after eight years what Christ wants for my marriage - and how that really doesn't have to be given a label one way or another.
  • I am encouraged by my complementarian friends who are showing me it is not the stereotype I thought it was.
  • I will always believe in the importance of having a parent stay-at-home with the kids, even if that opinion is unpopular and some of my closest friends disagree with it.
  • I am learning that being a Jesus feminist doesn't have to be about politics or bad theology - it is feminism that is "shaped and informed by one's faith in Jesus Christ."
  • I honestly admit that my views on this could (and probably will) continue to change in one way or another as I grow older and grow in my faith.
  • I am Amanda, and I am (pretty sure) that I am a Jesus Feminist.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mondays with Bubby

(in the morning in the car)

"You stress me out!" Bubby hollered from the backseat a few minutes before we needed to be home for Bugaboo's therapy appointment.

"How do I stress you out?" I asked trying to figure out where he picked up that phrase. Ah yes, when the dog ran away this morning, I yelled that to her when I finally dragged her back in the house.

"Because you say bad words to me." he replied.

"What bad words did I say to you?" I kept driving trying to think of what could be perceived as a bad word to my four year old.

"You told me I don't watch movies today. That's bad words."

(in the afternoon in the car)

Amid his non-stop talking about everything under the sun came his little voice asking, "How big is God? As big as a semi-truck?"

"God is much bigger than a semi-truck. He is bigger than everything."

"Urghh! I am NEVER going to get baptized." This was said with a tone of disappointment rather than a declaration.

"Why do you want to get baptized?"

"Because I am following Jesus." he said decidedly.

"What does that mean to you?" I asked.


"Can you turn up the song?"

(this afternoon)

While at the park today the boys were playing on some of the smaller equipment. There were just a handful of toddlers and preschoolers. All of the other moms that were there were not actually on the playground area with their children. They were on benches.

 Playing on equipment is something his therapists recommend. Easier said than done. Bubby went up and down slides while I helped Bug navigate the stairs.In order to catch him at the bottom, I would rush around once he was situated at the top.  This can be somewhat tricky depending on the piece of equipment.  It was a little bit frustrating because the other  children at the park had no regard for Bug.  While I was down at the bottom of the slide, I heard Bubby call out to an aggressive preschooler, "Don't push my brother down the slide!" The child ignored Bubby and proceeded to try to knock Bug down the slide so he could have his turn. (I was there so Bug was not hurt.)  We kept trying to move to different parts of the playground, but each time this handful of preschoolers and their mothers would show up a minute later. Then their kids would take over again.

I was a bit frustrated because it was very obvious that our trip to the playground was not as easy as theirs. I have never once been able to just sit at a playground and be oblivious to what my kids are doing. Part of me was slightly jealous at the sight of the bench-dwelling moms, but then I remembered the gifts I was given even in that trying moment.

I get to help my son use the slide.  Bug going down it independently will be a milestone, a celebration instead of something common place that most take for granted.. I get to see Bubby stand up for his brother - not because I told him to do it, but because somewhere in his four-year old mind he already knows it is the right thing to do. There are gifts even in the frustrating moments.  All is grace.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

four stories

One of my top five strengths is input. This basically means I collect things. In my case they aren't tangible things, they are quotes, pictures, ideas, and memories.  It is one of the reasons why I feel the need to post on Facebook so much of what my kids are doing. I need to collect every memory. I fear I do not collect enough of it. So tonight, here are just four simple stories and four Instagram pictures of my kids this week.

Somewhere along the way I started using the phrase, "Sad day," with the boys' disappointments. I'm not really sure when or why, but it is now common to hear both Bubby and now Bugaboo say it in the right context.  For instance tonight we were leaving Awana, and I wouldn't let the boys stay to play on the playground. (This is because I am a mean mommy, and the playground was wet, and I was tired and I was by myself).  While walking away, Bug responds to my decision with, "Sad day!  Playground. Sad day!" It was almost enough for me to change my mind and let them play. Almost.

We started going to BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) this year. I'm loving it, and they have a great preschool program that goes along with what I'm studying.  This year we are in Matthew, and so Bubby has been learning about some of the people in Matthew 1-3. Last week he kept talking about the evil Karen. I couldn't figure it out until he then said King Karen. Also known as King Herod.  This week the lesson was about John the Baptist. Usually after preschool or BSF Bubby needs a little time before he wants to tell me about his day. Today he waited until we were in the parking lot at Braums between appointments to yell out with much gusto, "Repent! Repent!" We live in the Bible belt, so no one even turned to look.

Bugaboo loves names.  It is actually one of the things he fixates on, one of the quirks that adds to his mysterious ways.  He will go down a list he has somehow come up with and say certain names over and over again. This is often when he is upset by something, but it can be in other contexts, too.  He has moved out of the nursery at church for Sunday school and Puggles - so there are some new names he has learned.  At night during our family prayer Bugaboo always gives names instead of things when he prays. We say "Thank you for____" and he fills in a name. We repeat until he says amen or he gets repetitive or he has given 20 names whichever comes first. The hard part is he has added new names to his memory, but his articulation makes it difficult for me to guess these new names.  His favorites continue to be Chow, Asha (Auntie Missa) and Sasha, but he always throws in some others. His newest favorites are his teachers. We hear a lot of "Sef (Seth) Juwie (Julie) Jeh-wy (Jerry) and Wah-wah (Laura)."

I don't know at what age one can figure out love languages, but Bubby's might be physical touch. Even though Bubby is not as snuggly as his younger brother, he always wants to pat us, hang on us, hug us or kiss us.  This afternoon I was stretched out on the couch for a few minutes and Bubby was brushing his hair (why I don't know)  He then decided to brush my hair forward, and he was having a good time telling me how he was styling it.  At the end he declared, "You look like a critter." I am pretty sure he meant like Mercer Mayer's Little Critter, but no matter what, that isn't the look I am going for.

(In case you are wondering what my top five strengths are, they are: belief, empathy, input, responsibility, and strategic. At least that's what the survey said three years ago.)