Thursday, May 31, 2012

He Turned 10

When Wonder Boy asked for a camp out to celebrate the double digits, I got really excited.  "You can invite  a couple friends, and I will start pinning all the cute 'camp out' parties on Pinterest."  He only caught the first part of that sentence because yuh-know:  He doesn't speak "lady."  A few minutes into searching the internet for camping party ideas it hit me.  Why the extra work?  Why the fluff?  Why spend time printing labels for snacks when - duh - we all know what a juice box is.  It's a camp out for heaven's sake.  With BOYS.  What I really want for this nature-loving child is a camp out you see on the movies - the simple, this-is-what-boys-live-for and makes us long for the summers of our childhoods kind of camp out.  The throw granola bars and candy in a sack, kids running through the yard eating Doritos right out of the bag, flashlights, head-lamps, and Twizzlers kind of camp out.  I tossed out all the cute camping themes, decor, and precious "Smores Bar" ideas because our child wanted to ring in the 10 with a night of boys, and turtles, and fire, and hot dog roasting, and taking bites that are way too big, and tomfoolery, and Starburst roasting, and smores making, and watermelon eating, and seed spitting, and crawfish catching, and stick gathering, and fire, and more fire, and glow stick hide-and-seek, and cupcakes served right on a metal baking pan and oh - this thing called fire. Did I mention fire?

bug birthday gifts
One of his friends gave him a nest containing hundreds of praying mantis eggs.

We promptly hung up the baby bug nursery outside.

Who cares if it's a grizzly camp out.  This child still requested strawberry cupcakes and pink icing.  I heart this boy who daily moons "what people think." He has no use for public opinion - or hair brushes.

I told the boys I'd pay them each a dollar if they made it through the night in the tent.
I lost 5 bucks this morning.
If this picture came with a scratch and sniff feature, you'd gag.
They smelled like fire, crawfish, bug spray, and man sweat.

Before bed I put on my excited, "this is cool" face and said, " can totally shower before you go to bed if you want.  How awesome would that be?  Right?  To be all clean in your tent?"  My enthusiastic request was met with a lot of  "What?  No WAY!  Showers are for girls!"  Boys.  They major in disgusting.

Except for this child.  He disappeared for a few minutes then ran outside and hugged me.
"I took a shower, mom."
I sniffed him up, told him goodnight, and how much I adored him.

Happy Birthday Hayden
You are wonder.
You are loved.
You are backyard camp out kind of magical.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


"Unless you become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven."  -- Jesus

Motherhood is a kaleidoscope it seems, made up of colors, textures, patterns.  This task of raising humans can be described with an endless list of words - some beautiful.  Some not as beautiful.

One thing is for sure.  Being present with children - watching them play - hurting with them, listening, cleaning up after them, finding rocks in pockets and a piece of a hot dog wienie in their bedroom floor gives mothers an intimate position to daily ponder what on earth Jesus means when He says difficult, crazy things like - "Unless you become like a child you will never get into the kingdom of heaven."

These words seem to be Jesus' line in the sand.  A bold statement.  Shocking, really.  How offended the crowd of men must have been when Jesus called over a child and said, "Who is greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?  Either become like this child - or you aren't getting in."

A child?  A wonky, never-thinking, needy, always loud, giggly, grabby, toothless child?

Become like them?  Them?  A child?  Or I've missed the whole point of this faith life?

On days when I think I might lose my mind if one more child loses their shoes or when I daydream about being someone important or long for a time when these souls are less needy and I have more time to think about grownup things, I'm trying to remember these confusing words of Christ.  While the world is running and smart people are busy with important agendas and brilliant minds are debating rich ideas I've been given a gift I guess - this life I live fully immersed in the habitat of children - these moments spent wrapped up in what the Kingdom of God is all wrapped up in - childlikeness.  

"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children"  - Nelson Mandela

It makes me wonder why I'm tempted to think investing deeply in my kids is less than investing in something else and why churches have to pay people to work in their nurseries because no one wants that job.  The Kingdom seems to be contained in these creatures we wish would grow up - the ones we can't wait to put in bed - the ones we try not to be put in charge of on Sundays.  Could it be that we're missing something?  And not in a "Hmm...that's something to consider" sort of way but instead in a "Hold the phone - if we aren't getting this, we may not be getting anything" sort of way.

I'm sitting at my computer watching my children play outside of my window.  Their hair is blowing.  Their shoes are missing.  They are an eruption of noises, dirt, and unpredictability.  Studying them is studying the Kingdom.  One day maybe I'll understand what an honor living in their world truly is.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Weeks ago I was driving through town and called Aaron to say, "Precision Demolition trucks are surrounding The Plaza.  They are going to blow it up!"  Aaron quickly reminded me that blowing buildings up is not usually what cities pay companies to do - instead they pay companies to IMPLODE buildings.  Whatever.  Minor detail.  We have been waiting for a long time for this day to finally arrive.  Thankfully the city was great and released the details of the implosion to the public.  They provided roped off viewing areas and the Plaza had its own implosion website.  It was set to implode at the ungodly hour of 6:30 this morning.    

At 4:30 a.m. the alarm made a terrible noise signaling us to rise and shine.  It took me 9 minutes to decide if we had finally lost our minds. "We're about to wake up four peaceful, sleeping children.  What is wrong with us?"  Our boys did not require much "waking."  They could barely sleep the night before - so much so that we titled last night - "Implosion Eve."  Unlike their parents they popped right out of bed ready to go see the building "slode up."  "Splode Up" is what Hudson has been calling it.  I will weep when he starts saying dumb words like "explode" instead of "splode up."


video by Chad Stephens

Watching a giant building fall down in five seconds will definitely be something that lodges in my memory (and I'm hoping our boys' memories) forever.  I think the word I'd use to describe the implosion would be "shocking."  I literally could not believe how fast it fell.  One minute there.  The next gone.  It was unbelievable.  The Plaza imploded in only a few seconds and landed perfectly in a neat little pile.  The science behind this blows my mind.

The implosion triggered thoughts of Haiti.  The rubble of the collapsed building reminded me of the rubble that became a normal part of our landscape when we lived there.  Imagining living people inside the building that fell took my breath away.  The power and force of a giant structure collapsing is something that is difficult to describe.  We literally felt it in our chests. It was sobering to think of our friends experiencing what we witnessed on a much more horrific scale.

I was thankful that this collapse was completely controlled - precise - that people were safely watching from a distance.  Sounds of cheers burst forth.  Such a strange contrast.

Hudson has already asked me three times today if we can "go watch that building splode up again."  Uh.  No.  Sorry, buddy.

If you ever get the chance to watch an implosion - take our word for it - GO!  Getting up at the crack of dawn was worth every single second.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summer Reading Book List

Speaking of the library, another common pattern in my life is pinning a ton of great books for my kids to read and then showing up at the library with zero plan, relying entirely on my ability to remember what books we should bring home.  FAIL.  Never works.  I subscribe and actually read (dork alert) literacy websites, the New York Times book reviews, and a lot of author blogs but there is a real breakdown in the "reading about great books" and actually getting those books in my children's hands.  I'm determined to remedy that situation this summer.  It's only taken me 13 years.  "Better late than never."   Put it on my tomb stone.

Following is a post I put together for our other website.  I thought I'd pass it along to you fabulous people (and I added a few to this list that are not available at our local library - and ones that are our personal favorites).

This list of books was taken from some of my favorite literacy websites.  I'm not going to group them by age range because children are always at different reading levels and let's face it - even though Where the Wild Things Are would appear on a book list for younger children, when I open it up and begin to read it even my oldest son makes his way over to the couch.  Some of these books are timeless, fun, and are so fantastic no "age range" is capable of containing them.

Of course this is an incomplete list, but I tried to include books for girls and boys and choose books that seemed like a great fit for summer days.  I'll admit though - this list is heavier on books that are winners for boys since girls are practically extinct in our home.

Here are the books we are hoping to enjoy and cross off our summer reading list:

Quick Reads

Our kids' love of Roxaboxen - this book captured their hearts.  Read here.

Activity Books

Great Summer Read Alouds
This is a broad group of books that are wonderful to read out loud or would work for older kids who are reading well enough to read chapter books independently.  These take longer to finish so we'll pick a few to read together and for our kids to read independently then see how far we get this summer.

favorite, favorite series...favorite!
or any book by Creech :)
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
If you're down with ol' Harry these are terrific books to read aloud
and the audio versions are extremely well made.

A great resource we've been using in our house is Common Sense Media.  Their slogan?  "We believe in media sanity, not censorship."  Our oldest son is a voracious reader and has reached that stage where we can't possibly read all the books he is interested in bringing home from the library.  Common Sense Media has been extremely helpful.  To find out more about Common Sense Media and how they are attempting to help families make informed decisions about media children are consuming, visit their "About us" section.  To read reviews of books your kids are interested in reading, check out their extensive list of book reviews.

Don't forget to see if your library has the audio versions of these books.  Our library carries a lot of these titles in audio form, and I'm in love with the idea of kids exercising their listening abilities.  Kids sitting quietly LISTENING?  It's such a dreamy idea.  Does this really happen in real homes?    

Guess what else our local library system does?  They let you request the books you want to check out online.  I sit at home in my pajamas and add books to my cart.  Then about 24 hours later I get an email that says my books are all sitting at the counter ready for me to pick them up.  I put on real clothes and drive to the library.  This is the ONLY reason my children are readers (due to my inability to fully grasp the alphabet or the devil Dewey Decimal System).  God bless the library. 

Did I leave any of your family's favorite books off the list?  Is there a series that has inspired your child to read?  Feel free to share other books and authors in the comment section.   Happy Reading!  Now I need to make a summer reading list for myself.  Hmmm.