Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Real Conversation

Scene: Saturday morning.  Grace's bedroom.  Helping her clean up (because she is super type A {actually diagnosed with OCD} and my refusal to fold the laundry drives her bonkers and so she folds the clothes in her drawers almost daily. And I pretty much don't care if her room is clean so long as there is a path. God gave me a kid with OCD to teach me discipline.  It isn't working.) She has turned on the radio and we are dancing and singing while cleaning to Call Me Maybe.  Then, on comes REO Speedwagon. 

Me: OH MY GOSH!  This is my jam!!!(Singing into imaginary mic while swaying) What started out as friendship has grown stroooonger...

Grace: MOM!  No singing. 

Me: But it's REO Speedwagon.  

Grace:  This is my room!  No singing!  You can wip sync.  

I begin to hand her clothes to put away whilst lip syncing into a roll of socks.  I am amazing. I am Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the late show.  I grab Mollie and pretend she is my guitar. She is cackling. I can't hold it in so I must whisper-sing.

Me: And even as I wander...

Grace: STOP SINGING!!!! I will turn off the wadio!  WE.  ARE.  CWEANING!!!!!

Me: (at the top of my lungs with Mollie jumping on the bed next to me.  I am standing on her bed, crooning into socks.  I throw my arms and socks in the air as I fall to my knees.) I CAN'T FIGHT THIS FEELING ANYMORE!  IVE FORGOTTEN WHAT I STARTED FIGHTING FOR!!!

Grace rolls her eyes and stomps her foot.  She throws a pair of leggings at me.  I catch them and toss them around my neck like a scarf. I am now off the bed, dramatically gesturing like some bad liturgical dancer. 


Grace: (She cocks her head to the side.  Her eyes widen.) Dis is da song from da Lorax?

Me: (crawling...obviously) AND IF I HAVE TO CRAWL UPON THE FLOOR...

Grace begins to dance.  First an arabesque as she folds tights (seriously, who the heck folds tights? My 5 yr old, that's who.).  We dance and sing around the room, Grace tidying and me singing at the top of my lungs. And then suddenly, as if REO Speedwagon gave her permission, she snags a few pairs of tights and throws them in the air. Mollie dances in the rain of socks and tights.  Grace begins to laugh until she falls down.  

Me: And I'm getting closer than I ever thought I miiiight...  Okay, Grace, this next part you've gotta really crank it up and sing with me...

Grace: (bangs her fists twice on the bed like a drum) BABY I CANT FIGHT THIS FEELING ANYMORE!!!! 

By the end of the song we are breathless and covered in socks.  And my daughter, maybe for the first time in her sweet little life, isn't upset that her bed is rumpled, her sister is in her room messing with her stuff and there are socks everywhere.  

Thank you, REO Speedwagon.  Thank you.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Slumber Parties and Sleep Stalkers

So when Sloan travels, I typically let one of the kids sleep with me on one of the nights.  We rotate weekly and everyone gets even turns.  They all know this. However, one child in particular gets bent out of shape on weeks it is not this child's turn.  Mostly this means extra books read at bedtime and the promise of morning snuggles.  

Last night, struggling with a cough, the bothered child chose to come into my room and glare at me for two hours.  Like face three inches from my head and nostrils flaring.  (Think super creepy and stalkery.) When not rubbing said child's back and assuring the child that the child was loved and cherished, I mostly tried to sleep through it.  Because seriously, I'm over this game.  I think at one point I said to the child, "If heavy breathing is all you got for me, I'm going back to sleep. I don't care if you stare at me."  This further infuriated the child but I just rolled over.  Because at 4am, I will not be held hostage by just a clenched jaw and scrunched face.

About thirty minutes later, after dreaming of Sloan and I being super spies (confession: sometimes the role of Sloan Phillips was played by Jeremy Renner), I heard a thud, a yelp, a scurry and then a slammed door.  I'd rolled over and inadvertently elbowed child in the face, causing the child to fall and then retreat to the child's room.  

Is it bad that I didn't pursue the child but smiled and returned to my dream where I was skinny and saving the world with Hawkeye?  I mean, my dress was fabulous and I could run in heels.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

I only got so much to give

Today started off awesome.  Up, showered, and dressed with mousse in my hair and even make up on my face before the kids even woke up.  We were up early so instead of the usual cereal and fruit, I made eggs, bacon, and waffles.  The kids were ecstatic!  Yeah Mommy!!! 
I followed that up with some stellar, no nonsense parenting.  The kids were climbing on the roof of the Little Tikes playhouse in our playroom and using it as a slide, leaping off the edge without abandon into the air.  I told them to stop. They did not.  I said if they didn't stop I would get rid of the house.  They did not stop.  I snapped a pic and posted it on Facebook and within 30 seconds I sold it.  BOOM!! FOLLOW THROUGH!!! 2 points to Mom and with $60 coming my way!  Within the hour it was out of our house and the check in my pocket. I was winning!!!!  Mom of the year. 
Then it was time to take Grace to a services meeting at Henry's school. She rocked it, of course.  Though in truth getting a speech pathologist to query a kid with sensory/anxiety issues is about like seeing a golf pro for your toothache.  It was afterwards that everything began to unravel. 
Grace had sat still and answered questions wonderfully for an hour. So she was antsy after the meeting.  She started off into the parking lot without me.  I started to run after her, but apparently, you actually need to move your feet not just your body.  I fell Nestea plunge style  off the curb and onto the pavement.  I bloodied both my knees and banged my elbow.  All day long my knees, arms, back and neck have been killing me.  But there was no time to lick my wounds in the school parking lot, I had to feed Grace lunch and get the girls ready for gymnastics.  I dug into my pocket for my keys only to realize the check my buddy had written for playhouse was gone.  If had it less than an hour.  Classic. 
Hallelujah gymnastics was uneventful.
 I dropped the girls off at home and then took Charlie for his well child visit. He's grown 4 inches and gained 8 lbs in the past 6 months.  
But of course during his visit I got a call from my friend Lisa and I knew.  I'd forgotten to remind Sloan to go to bus stop to pick up her special needs son so now he was riding the bus back to school.  Oh, and to make matters worse?  The child we forgot to pick up was just adopted a year ago.  So let's add abandonment and attachment issues to that.  Worst babysitting friends ever.  (Side note: he LOVED the extra time on the bus and the special time playing cars back at the school until his Mom picked him up.  Also, she is the greatest friend ever because she wasn't even mad at me.)
Oh, AND I was late picking up Henry from his Lego after school class because Charlie's well visit ran long.  
After I fetched Henry, I dashed home to get Sloan and the girls to head out to dinner.  Clearly tonight was made for the resteraunt gift cards Santa left in my stocking.  And because there wasn't a part of my body not in pain, I asked Sloan to snag me some Motrin to take at the resteraunt.  Which of course I forgot to take until we got home. So I'm still in pain.  
But I did learn something today.  I only have so much smart momma bandwith.  And to waste it all on 3D mascara and scrambled eggs is just plain dumb.  So it'll be back to Cheerios tomorrow.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

When Glory feels like Death

This morning at church, when I was skipping laps with a restless child, a friend told me she was encouraged by seeing me pursue my kids.  That she saw Jesus in me.  
I chuckled and said, "Thanks. I drink a lot." She laughed, "Well you gotta do what you gotta do."
Then again at lunch, a woman told us that our family warmed her heart and that we as parents were doing a good job.  
I tell you this not to brag.  Because the reality is that I can't remember the last time Sloan and I got to sit in the sanctuary for a whole service or our kids we what we deem well behaved at a resteraunt.  We generally alternate between one kids potty breaks, another's fear of not being held, and then another's child inability to sit in a crowded room for very long.  Our kids are loud, defiant, anxious, and restless.  More often than not, Sloan and I are tired, snappish, embarrassed and three seconds away from taking our stapler and setting the building on fire.  
Our family doesn't look like I thought it would.  Not because 50% of it is black.  Several of my children have diagnoses that scare me.  But because they "look" neuro-typical, I'm constantly aware that they may appear unruly and spoiled when really, their traumatic backgrounds cause them to live in a state of hyper vigilance, never far from an Amygdala hijack.   I forget this is what is happening so much and confuse their diagnosis with their hearts and characters. 
I've had to repent.  A lot.  In truth, I've loved my kids for who I thought they might be rather than who they are.  And by doing so, I've missed out on just how many amazing things God is doing in them.  My expectations have been off.  
One of my kids struggles at meals.  Like can't wait for food or sit still or handle odd smells or if something is "off".  Most meals end with me losing it or this child saying the child hates itself. 
My friend at church telling me she saw Jesus in me encouraged me to love this child in the midst of their struggle.  So instead of expecting the child to wait for the child's meal patiently, I took the child to the restaurant's patio and we danced and galloped and skipped and danced to Mariachi music staring at our reflections in the restaurant's windows.    There was part of me so tired and embarrassed that I wanted to scream and another part that was struggling to hold back the tears.  That I was able to take part in the joy that sustains this particular child.  
I write all this to encourage you Mommas:  tell one another when you catch glimpses of grace.  Shout it out.  Because chances are the glory you see feels like death to us.
It doesn't matter that I can't sit in worship for the whole service.  Loving my kids well IS WORSHIP.  And sometimes loving well is hard.  Really bloody hard.  In fact, a lot of times I'm faking it just counting down til bedtime.  But God is faithful and bridges the gaps.  He loves using flawed folks to do His bidding.  So carry on, Momma.  Love well.  Hold on til bedtime.  What feels like crucifixion to you just might look like resurrection to someone else.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Three Amigos

When Mollie & Charlie first came home, there was definitely tension between them and Grace.  They easily understood Henry's role as big brother, but who was this person who was Charlie's same age and not much bigger than Mollie? Combine this with Grace's utter confusion as to why her new little sister didn't immediately worship her and why were Mommy and Daddy paying so much attention to these new kids and it kinda was a debacle.  Seriously.  

Grace had a tantrum during our "airport moment" because Mollie didn't know who she was and wouldn't kiss her.  

There were also moments early on when I thought Grace was going to hate her new siblings forever and vice versa.  We called Charlie & Grace the Weasley Twins (and still do) because for certain the only times they got along was when they were managing mischief. 

But then one day I realized their fights were no longer born of fear or insecurity, but plain old sibling rivalry.  Charlie & Grace discovered they had similar energy levels and interests:  gymnastics, Little Einsteins, dress up, Ninjago, dancing, eating, and idolizing Henry.  Grace began including Mollie in more of her traditionally "girlie" pursuits and found that they both could cook a mean wooden food soup, had an affinity for cell phones, tutus, and My Little Ponies, that when it came to stuffed animals, Ketchup, or Snappea Crisps--more is always better.

I am so moved by the work that God is doing in each of their hearts. It's an encouragement to my weary soul.  He's truly knitting those three together.  They play so well together out of thin air, creating a world full of dragons and fairies and ninjas and babies out of nothing but a blanket and all the couch cushions.  I often hear then telling each other they like one another or that they're each other's best friends.  

I rarely am concerned that Grace & Charlie are secretly plotting to take over the world and make us their minions.  (I mean I'm certain they have a plan in place, just that they're delaying putting it into operation.  At least until they get more chocolate chips.)

But Grace got a medal at school today during an Olympics game.  She promptly gave it to Mollie for being the best little sister ever.  And then she said, "Sorry Charlie.  I don't have anuvah medal for you.  But you are my bestest 4 year old brother and I love you."  He said, "I loves you too!" And then squeezed her tight til they fell over laughing.  

My cup runneth over. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Every night we have our sweet little bedtime rituals.  I lather everyone in coconut oil and we put on Jammies, then either a dance party, story, or show (depending on Mommy's energy level).  Then we brush teeth and set out for each kid's individual routine.  

First I set Mollie up with books in her bed and tell her I will be back.  Then I head into the boys' room to hand out books & set their iPod to a book on tape and promise to come back to give Charlie hugs, kisses, and high fives. 

Then I head to Grace's room to snuggle, sing 3 songs (typically Twinkle, Twinkle, La La Lu, and Jesus Loves Me), tuck in her 4 million stuffed animals, and say the Lord's Prayer.  

Then I head back in to kiss Henry and then Charlie tells how many hugs, kisses, and high fives he wants.  Typically it's 10, 10, and 5, with the occasional fist bump for good measure.  

Lastly, I head into Mollie-Moll's room.  We snuggle and sing Jesus Loves Me, and pray she sleeps all night long in her own bed (very.important.prayer).  Then I let her pick which song on the IPod she wants to start off with (always Lisa Loeb's Twinkle Twinkle but she still scrolls through the entire lullaby playlist I made). Then I give her a kids in her palm and say "Where's Mommy's kiss?"  Then she waves her sweet hand and I cradle her face with it.  Then she kisses my hand and cradles my face with it.  It is very dear.  

And just as we have gotten this routine running smoothly, I think we may have to change it up.  Because now we have a boy willing to read everyone a bedtime story.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

Rites of Passage & Teachable Moments

First steps.
First pretend tea party.
First Manicure. 
First dance with Daddy.

Oh, the sweet rites of passage for a little girl.  But there's another, less beloved rite of passage for little girls:


Well, tonight it happened, folks.  After dinner, we sent Grace upstairs to fetch her pajamas.  She came down awhile later holding her princess nightgown and with a trembling lip, handed me a handful of hair.  

At first I thought she'd given her American Girl Doll a haircut.  She said, "It's not Cici's hair.  It's mine."  

And because it really didn't appear (at first glance) to be that much hair, I calmy just took her hand and said, "Grace, we are going upstairs now to get the scissors and talk.  No dance party for you tonight."  My calm demeaner was also granted to me by recollections of me cutting off my pigtails at the scalp two days before Kindergarten picture day resulting in the worst attempt at a Dorothy Hammel cut in the history of the world.  I mean, I'd known this was coming.  And all she had done was snip her ends. I resolved to not yell at her but attempt to put our relationship first.

But then we got upstairs and she pulled out of her pocket the very sharp hair cutting scissors.  The ones kept in her hair bag.  The hair bag she'd dug into at the beginning of dinner to fetch a rubberband for keeping her twists out of ketchup.  This was premeditated.  And dangerous.  I inspected the damage.  She hadn't just nipped the ends, she cut off one entire rope twist at the front of her head about 2 inches from the scalp.  

Remembering my resolve, I calmly said, "Grace, let's go in the bathroom and take down your twists so you can fully see exactly what you have done."  Her lip quivered, "Will you forgive me?"  

I said, "I love you.  Let's look at the damage."  

We took down the twists.  Her chest began to heave.  "Is it going to come back?"  

"Slowly.  Not for a looooong time," I said softly.  "Now let's try to pull it back so we can brush your teeth and get ready for bed." 

As I brushed her teeth, tears filled her eyes and fell down her cheeks.  

We finished up & I carried her into her room.  She was still sobbing when I sat down with her on her bed.  "Will you forgive me?"

"Oh, Grace, of course.  I love you and love forgives.  Even though you made a bad and dangerous choice, I forgive you. And I love you.  To the moon and back."

"I love you too.  Can we say our special prayer together?"  

And through tears, we said the Lord's Prayer together.  

Y'all, this is the first time my darling daughter showed repentance on her own.  And I totally would've missed it had I yelled at her. Yelled at her like I normally would have.  

Now to call my soon to be niece and tell her that her flower girl cut her hair & decide what we should do about it.