Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Circle of Life

This morning.

“Mommy, I just want a drink of your orange juice, okay?” I hear as I’m running up the stairs to grab my shoes, followed immediately by the sound of my full orange juice glass crashing to the floor.


This afternoon.

Finny climbs up on the big boy potty, gets himself all positioned and then pees all over my leg.

This evening.

I’m flipping burgers on the deck while Laurie feeds Charlie in the high chair and entertains a newly walking Allie. Finny and Jane are playing upstairs. Suddenly from the deck, while waiting for the cheese to melt, I hear nothing but the sound of Charlie crying. When I return to the kitchen, I see Charlie alone in his high chair with no sign of Laurie or Allie. Then I start to hear vague rumblings from upstairs, the sound of hand washing. I know it has something to do with the potty. Finny and Jane, new trainees had decided to go poopy on the potty by themselves and then were left a bit at a loss when it came to the sophisticated art of wiping.

After wiping and cleaning and washing, Laurie leads the entire caravan downstairs for dinner. Charlie is still crying. Allie is now screaming. Finny and Jane are repeatedly hitting each other on the head with wooden toy kitchen food. Then, they cry. Say sorry. Go in time out. Hit each other again. Cry again. Go in time-out again. All of this while baked beans are being scooped, burgers are being cut up, corn is being buttered, milk is being poured. I nurse Charlie while Laurie serves up tiny plates of food that then remain relatively untouched by the tiny hands they were meant for.

I carry a sleeping Charlie up to bed and as I approach his bedroom, I peek into my room and notice what looks to my horror like a giant bug on my white pillow sham atop our bed. I move in closer to get a look at the monster and discover to my greater horror that it is not a bug, but a big, giant glob of poop.

I go downstairs and pop the top off a bottle of Corona. Thirty minutes later while doing dishes I knock that bottle of Corona off the counter and it goes crashing to the floor.


Circle of life.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


When he’s caught imagining…

“Ummm…we need three eggs for Peter Cottontail,” Finny mused as he contemplated the blank pages of my grocery pad that he had pulled off the refrigerator.

When he’s figuring out his world…

“I can’t see the sky this morning,” Finny puzzled at 5:00 a.m. through tired eyes as he sat on his little potty. “That’s because it’s still night time,” David responded. But it didn’t matter. He was up and that was that.

When he’s trying to strike a compromise…

“Mommy, how about we have three M&Ms and a lollypop? Does that sound like a plan?” Finny proposes after going pee-pee and poopy on the potty.

When he’s trying to calm down…

“I’m just a little upset right now,” as the big tears roll down his cheeks and the big bottom lip turns under and he tries to get ahold of himself after a stubbed toe or a bit tongue or a particularly drowsy nap.

When he’s trying to make friends…

“Hi, my name is Finny. I came to the library today and I have a band-aid on my knee because I have an owie. I live on _______. Do you want to come to my house to play?” Twice now the stunned other child has run away, not quite sure what to make of his rather forward approach.

When he’s looking for a laugh…

“Eeee Teee Phooone Hooome.” Said in his best, slow alien voice when Dr. Rath turned his fingertip red with the light from her otoscope. We all erupted in laughter.

And when he’s praying…

“What do you want to thank God for today, Finn?”

“I want to thank God for curtains and fans and the moon and trains and blankets and lamps and Peter Cottontail.”

“Well, that just about covers it.”

And now Charlie, big, little old Charlie, is chiming in from his little corner of the world. With a voice seemingly deeper and a little raspier, he has started talking back to us, turning back his lips to reveal his mouth full of gums, saying, “Dah, dah, dah, dah, dah.” Music to my ears. Another voice in the house. Another little personality rolling across the blanket.

Such a big world. So much to take in at once. Thoughts, feelings, ponderings, wonderings.

I like being the teacher, but I love being the listener. Taking in all the pure, joyful innocence of the universe wrapped up in the sweet, soft little sounds of my children’s baby voices.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Sweet Spot

Somewhere along the way, I stumbled upon it. The sweet spot. That feeling of ultimate bliss, ultimate joy, a realization that I truly have everything I’ve ever wanted. The key though is not in the having; it’s in the realizing.

There was a good while there when I felt a bit under a cloud. I grumbled and whined about my discomfort during pregnancy. I grouched and pouted over my harried life with an infant and a toddler and no time for myself. I was plagued a bit by a woe-is-me syndrome I couldn’t quite kick. I struggled from a lack of perspective and a lack of sleep that made even small daily tasks seem a giant hurdle as I poured orange juice in my coffee and lost my temper over silly things like dropped toys.

But, it seems here in mid-July I’ve hit a sweet spot. A delicious moment in time when I’m not so constantly on the hunt for sleep or time to myself. Instead, right now, I crave time with my kids, time with my family. Last night, I actually allowed myself to leave the dishes in the sink to cuddle up with Finny under a blanket and watch TV. He laid his little head on my shoulder and found his own sweet spot. This afternoon, I put down the hair dryer and rolled around on the floor with Charlie just soaking in every last smile and squeal he threw my way. I kiss, kiss, kissed every last bit of him. Charlie, it turns out, is covered in sweet spots.

The windows are filthy. The refrigerator hasn’t been cleaned in ages. The extra room in our basement is a pit of dispair. And the weeds. Lord God Almighty. The weeds are attacking and anyday now I’m certain a field of clover is going to rise up and strangle us all.

But, these tiny, pesky worries and concerns, they sort of go in and out these days. They don’t linger long. Because I’m in it. The sweet spot. A moment in time when I am actually sort of blissful about how blessed I am.

Sometimes when I’m in the sweet spot, I am attacked by dark, useless fears of losing it. David and I made the mistake of watching the Jaycee Lee Dugard special this weekend and as intriguing as it was, it left us both crying and afraid, imagining what it would be like if that nightmare descended upon us.

But no sense in borrowing that kind of trouble. It looks a bit tacky in the sweet spot. So fear, be gone. Worry, be gone. Weeds, I surrender, you win. I’m going in for more smooches, more splashes in the baby pool, a few more sips of wine. Today, I’m celebrating the fact that I have two little boys and one big boy who endlessly shower me with affection.

Today, I’m celebrating the sweet spot. That rare and special moment where the sun shines a bright and brilliant spotlight on all my blessings so that I see clearly and vividly just how spectacularly the world about me is sparkling.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pure Imagination

About two weeks ago, the circus arrived at our house. They pulled up into the driveway with their big trucks cars and started unloading a great, big, exciting cast of characters. Finny, it seems, is the headmaster and he puts on what is, well, in his mother’s eyes, the greatest show on earth. And as luck would have it, I have a front row seat for all live performances.

I have been waiting for Finny’s one-man show to arrive for quite some time now. I remember wanting it especially badly back in January, February and March, when Charlie had just arrived and Finny would not go anywhere without me, could not even stand for me to not be holding him at all times, especially when Charlie was crying or nursing. I wondered when the time would come when Finny could entertain himself.

Well, it’s arrived and it’s even better than I’d imagined because not only does Finny now entertain himself, he entertains all of us, and we’re captivated.

The benefits of Finny’s imagination abound, but one of the greatest is the fact that it cannot get lost under the passenger seat. Neither Finny nor I are particularly adept at keeping track of his toys. Each day he seems to be fixated on something new. From a bathtub rubber ducky to a purple tea cup he pilfered from his cousin Jane’s collection, it is hard to keep track of all of the little toys and gadgets he grows attached to. Since he was a baby, Finny has had a habit of always needing to have something in each hand, or sometimes a thing in each hand and additional items tucked under each armpit. He’s actually something of a hoarder, a quirk I’m sure some therapist could dissect for us. He is constantly climbing the stairs with his elbows because he will not let go of his collections, and he is fond of saying, “I have too many hands!” when he is asked to pick up his juice cup but cannot for the life of him figure out how to do it with a superhero in one hand, a zebra in the other and a wooden chicken leg tucked under his chin. These things are constantly getting traded out for other magnificent finds because as he puts it, “He has too many hands!” to hold them all, and as a result, we end up searching for Mega Man at 7:45 p.m. because he’s “somewhere” and Finny has decided he cannot go to sleep without him.

But the imagination, well that’s a different story. It follows him wherever he goes and makes its way into all sorts of different places. While driving home from Stroller Strong class the other day, it showed up in the backseat of the car. I noticed in a rare moment of peace that I was actually listening to something other than a Disney song without protest. When I turned around to see what was going on, there was Finny holding Thomas and Percy, re-enacting a dramatic rescue scene. “Thomas! Help me!” cried Percy as he plunged over the edge of the car seat. “Hold on, Percy! I’ll save you!” Thomas replied as he dragged his old friend back to safey on Finny’s lap.

A few mornings ago, as I was getting breakfast ready, I noticed that Finny was not clamoring for a show. He plopped himself down next to Charlie on his playmat and performed a little play with the lion and the cheetah which happened to be laying beside a “lake” on the playmat.

“Lion, would you like to come swimming with me?” posed Cheetah.

“No, dear. I forgot my slippers.” The obvious response.

I clamped my hand over my mouth to keep from bursting out laughing, not wanting to interrupt and desperately wanting to see what would happen next.

Most often The Finny Show seems to come out at mealtime, a sort of dinner theater. I know I should discourage him from playing with his food, but what about performing a play with his food? I just can’t help myself. When the crusts of bread form a tunnel and the purple grapes come alive as a family trying to get across, I don’t want to scold him for playing with his food; I want to see what’s going to happen to that poor, desperate grape family.

“Come on, Grandpa! You can make it! Mother, are you coming too? Hop on! Do you have your money? You need some money…” Where are they going? Why do they need money? And just what else is sitting up in that little brain of yours, Finny?

David and I have been telling Finny stories since he showed up, and now, finally, it’s his turn.

Rolling over, sitting up, walking, talking, potty training—all huge milestones, but this imagination business? Well, I think it’s safe to say, this is my new favorite.

I’ve got my popcorn ready. The big top is up. All that’s required is a quiet moment, an attentive ear, and a few idle breadcrusts and the show begins. The student becomes the master.

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