Thursday, August 23, 2012

30,000 Foot Perspective

Sorry..we're off to squeeze what we can out of summer before it's over!  I will post tomorrow on next month's goals.  Miss you!

We got stuck with a window seat on our way home from New York.  Normally I would have tried to change this, but I literally just made my flight.  So I took the window seat I had been assigned, thinking we were in for a miserable time.  But we weren't.  Baby and I looked out the window at the taxiing planes and buses and trucks.  Then, as we lifted off into the sky, we watched the city sink beneath us, a layered nickel-colored crystal on the edge of a glimmering blue-gray sea.  For quite some time I could see the rise of buildings and a depression with a green Central Park in the center.  As the city gradually melted in the distance, we crossed rivers and patchworks of fields and busy interstates buzzing with tiny traffic.

Baby and I read a book, then he nursed into oblivion while I tried not to watch the soap opera next to me :) and instead looked out the window as the landscape changed.  He slept and slept, while I drizzled crumbs of a long awaited meal on his little shirt, then brushed them off.  As we climbed higher, all that was visible were columns of white puffy clouds-- silent, thoughtful sentries that marked the way home.

Baby's head was cradled in the crook of my arm, his little mouth open, sweet little breath falling in and out so softy.  His soft ginger-ish hair was curled in little wisps over his ears.  His little body was snuggled up to mine.  He was like a little angel.  So still and peaceful.  And I realized, in one year things will be so different!  My baby will not be a baby anymore!  I'm so glad I had this time with him.

I thought about my trip.  About how it felt to see my sister again, about the city and its opportunities and excitements, about how easy life was with one child in a small apartment, about my children waiting at home, my husband, our garden, and our home.  Did I wish my life were different?  That I were single again, working in a busy profession, fashionable and important?  Doing things for me?  Yes, part of me did.  But only a very small part.  Mostly, I realized, I have a great life.  It is challenging.  And exhausting.  But it is so rewarding!  I wouldn't give up my crazy life with my five children.  They are what make it worth living.

I did think about things I ought to change.  Things I don't always see from an on-the-ground perspective.  Things that were suddenly more clear from a thousand miles away and 30,000 feet in the sky, surrounded by pillowy white clouds.  For example, after two very different weeks-- one on a remote but beautiful & beloved river, and another in bustling New York, I saw the same thing.  I saw that my possessions are the smallest part of the equation when it comes to my happiness.  That I used to live on nothing-- and it was happy.  I know that is not realistic now, but it made me realize-- how much time do I spend on "stuff?"  I think they're like Twinkies when it comes to real life value.  The things that last are people.  Realizing I need to go home and simplify whatever I need to simplify so I can have time for what matters most.

It was hard to leave my kids.  I always worry about safety-- theirs and mine.  I want to hold them in my hands and protect them from everything that comes their way throughout eternity.  But then they would never grow.  As hard as it was to leave, I'm glad I did.  It gave us a chance to miss each other.  And for me to show them how important my sister is to me.

I vowed within myself not to forget this time in the sky, just my snuggly baby and those clouds.  That I'm going to be different.  Better.  That when I finally return to Him, I can look Him in the eye and know I did my darndest for my kids that are really His.  That I can look back and know I didn't squander this precious opportunity to love, teach, and bless.  Because that is what life is really all about.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ode to Claudia Kincaid, NY Day 5

Day 5.  Can you believe I got to stay five days?  I was only going to stay for three-- I always worry about the kids (though I knew they were in very capable hands).  My cute sister convinced me to stay for 5 and I'm glad I did.  She even extended my ticket on my last day so I could go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I wanted to go there so badly.  A la Claudia Kincaid from The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. :) Yes, I, too, wish I could live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a week.  That would be blissful and fun.  Instead, we got there right when it opened and were able to have the museum all to ourselves for a short time before the crowds showed up.  It was so beautiful, big, and impressive.

Like Claudia, I hope I can go home different. :) (More on that later)

 We were all alone in the new Islamic section (I can't remember if that is what it was called?).  So beautiful.  Like this hand-painted Koran.

 Loved the film The Young Victoria.  Her husband was especially inspirational to me in real life.

  Reminded me of my kiddos!
 The exterior of an American home rebuilt inside the museum!  Wow.
We read I, Juan de Pareja and learned an amazing story about this man, a later-to-be freed slave of Velasquez and artist in his own right.
 By Mary Cassatt.  I loved their Impressionist section.

 I'm going to miss this place, this girl, and time with this little boy!

This month is up!  I will soon be posting this month's recap and next month's goals.  I will also be posting about church in New York here.  I hope you are having a wonderful week!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Some Funnies

We've had a few times lately when we've started laughing and couldn't stop.  Here they are, to brighten your day.  Or not.  :)

We were sitting at dinner one night and my three year-old's sippy cup was emitting a soft, high-pitched squeak as air released from inside.  Someone said "I hear the kittens!"  Our garage, where the kittens have been home-basing, has a door directly to our dining room, so a couple of the kids thought the sound they heard was kittens meowing from the other side of the door.  I told them no, the sound is Ava's sippy.  No Mom, they said, it is the kittens!  We can hear them!  So then everyone hushed and heard the meow-like sound emitting clearly from Ava's sippy cup.  Then I said "maybe inside Ava's sippy is a tiny kitten!"  Not that funny, but it made everyone bust a gut, if you know what I mean.  Then my oldest joked that in the grocery stores next to the 1% and 2% milk you can now find "Milk With Tiny Kitten."  They were laughing so hard, even the baby joined in with a forced machine-gun laugh that was adorable and infectious.  Then it degenerated into jokes that weren't quite so high-brow, like "butter with leper/leopard finger"  (not funny, I know).  Fun times.

Playing ping pong with my 10 year-old in our basement and my three year-old wanted in on the action.  I set up a chair next to my side of the table while my son and I attempted a game.  The difficulty in actually playing a serious game with baby underfoot and 3 year-old swiping at anything that came her way made us sort of give up, starting first with high-lobbed I-don't-really-care-about-this-game-anymore shots, continued fog of scoring that always ended in declaring it must be a tie, and a loose ball that got up into the floor joists and rattled around a few times before descending back to earth.  We laughed so hard that things then degenerated into a total free-for-all, hitting the wildest and craziest shots across the room at each other, rarely hitting the table.  We laughed so hard that wetting our pants became an option.

Playing Catan for 3 long hours, my husband begging for someone to mercifully "just win!  Please!"  Husband getting frustrated as I kept confusing his pieces with our daughter's, as well as some continued confusion about the rules.  Watching him as baby tried to climb on the table, kneeling in the cards, my six year-old sneaking my cards then trying to auction them to the highest bidder, watching my nine year-old prudently try to save all her resources only to keep having to give up cards; a super healthy snack of salami slices and brownies (though we ate super healthy this week! it felt really good!) that almost turned into dinner as evening waned into night, little girls wandering off as they lost interest, watching Esther on TV, and then, finally, husband came from behind and won!  That sneaky devil.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dishwashing Poem

I referred yesterday to a poem I found and saved.  About washing dishes, of all things.  :)

If you want to see day 4 1/2 of NYC (New York public library, an attempt at the Tenement Museum, Chrysler Building lobby, and getting lost), see here.

I'm off on a mini date with two of my kiddos.  It was going to be just one, but the other one tried to get my attention by cleaning two bathrooms and mopping a room.  Ha ha.  I think he got my attention.  Cute.  I was trying to be really firm so a little girl could get some time with just me (I'm going to take each of them on a date before school starts), but I figure I can take her when the others are in school.  

(my kids were roughly this old at writing.  time is just flying too fast!)

I Saw Happiness

I saw happiness that
In a sink of dish washing
As my four year-old
Burst in to tell me
That our
Then, leaving me to my thoughts,
His hair standing up quizzically in the back,
I smiled within myself as
The door muffled his receding
Then through the kitchen window,
A perfect view
Of his sister,
Throwing her
Bouncy ball into the air with all her might,
Little arms barely clearing her head.
First trying the grass,
Then finding a better spot in the
Scrawled yesterday’s painted sidewalk,
Filled with
Bright blue and yellow balloons,
And a rudimentary hopscotch.
And I remembered that I’d given up
Office work,
And a world championship in the hurdles,
Subjected my body to stretch marks,
Varicose veins, and sleep deprivation experiments
(thinking as I read her Pooh that my head too was stuffed with fluff)
To watch my baby sleep,
Her soft breath moving in and out,
A two year-old throw her blue ball, unaware of observation,
And a crouching four year-old wonder at the latest
Wandering bug.
I laughed inside myself
To discover that
Happiness had somehow found me
Inside a bowl of rainbow-
swirling dish suds
As the sun filtered through the
Kitchen window
On a late Thursday

As always, suggestions appreciated!  Happy Friday!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

NYC Day 4

On day four my sister and I walked through the financial district, down Wall Street and past the New York Stock exchange, and on through Castle Clinton to the ferry.  We parted ways (sniff)-- she went to work and baby and I got on the ferry.  I have actually seen the Statue of Liberty before, and while I felt it was a little over-rated on my first trip (12 years ago), I thought the ferry ride (wait for the cheesy) out into the harbor and past the Statue was breathtaking and thrilling-- I don't know how else to describe it.  This time I didn't actually go to the statue, instead I went on to Ellis Island to the Immigration Museum.  I loved it.

To stay on topic with my project :), one of the reasons this trip and this day were so rejuvenating is that I crave doing certain things that became more difficult once I became a mother.  I love history (that is what I graduated in), but there is a dearth of good historical sites in the West.  It was really electrifying to see a place that has woven so much beauty into the diverse fabric of our country.  I felt inspired and humbled to be walking where so many brave immigrants tread on their path to freedom or opportunity all those years ago.

Even though it is hard to leave my kids, for me, I have to make sure I'm getting occasional times like this where I remember I'm a real person.  And get a little recharge.  So I can be a better, more enthusiastic, happy mother.  And so I can realize the treasure of these years-- that they won't last forever.

That said, I had such a wonderful time with my littlest one.  We really bonded.  And he was such a delightful travelling companion.  I also realized I need more time individually with my kids.


  Sorry this is blurry. 

  This little boy LOVED the ferry ride.  He was so adorable.

Did any of your ancestors come through Ellis Island?  I don't know if any of mine did.  One of my new favorite kid lit books is Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpool.  So good.  Strong immigrant themes.