22 July 2006

Cooking Up Trouble

Well, the other day, I was out of the house for a while, and upon my return, Charis brought me this...

Yes, it's a box of Bisquick. Ordinarily, I would simply explain to Charis that this wasn't a box of something to eat, but rather it was something to be cooked, but lately, Charis has been wanting to help more and more in the kitchen. I figured, what the heck? I'm game. So I got out a mixing bowl and wooden spoon, and we dug in.

Before long, and with just a tiny bit of help from me, she had a hunk of dough to work with. I showed her how to flour the countertop and the dough to prepare to roll it out. She LOVED sprinkling the flour.

Soon, she was rolling the dough like a pro. We had no need for biscuits, so I was racking my brain trying to figure out what to do with this, until I thought of cinnamon rolls. So we improvised!

Charis helped measure out the sugar after I measured out the butter and cinnamon, and she spread it out on the dough.

Charis continued to dump sugar EVERYWHERE, and then took the water I brought over to seal the edges and dumped it on the rolls, but other than that, the rolling and cutting went fairly smoothly.

Here's the final product! It was...ahem...a little more work having Charis help me, and due to Charis' fascination with measuring cups and spoons and her need to use all of them, it was, well, a LOT more clean-up, but it was fun.

And since I can't very well give Charis so much press without mentioning my little man, here are a couple of tidbits about him:

First of all, he is becoming more and more smily, but I just can't get the camera to capture it quickly enough, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Secondly, I think he's in a growth spurt. He wants to eat every 2.5 hours or so, and he is not (to say the least) sleeping through the night. He'd better turn out to be TALL for all of this...

And lastly, he has started enjoying the Johnny Jump-Up a bit lately. This post apparently won't take any more pictures, though I can't imagine why, so I will post some photos of Judah--in the Jump-Up and otherwise-- in a later post!

17 July 2006

Finding the Right Track

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but our neck has been HOT. I mean, muggy, oppressive, steamy hot--the kind of hot you usually see in movies about the deep south, where everything seems sticky and alligators lurk in the mist. THAT hot. So we've been swimming a bit lately--last week, Charis, Judah, and I went to the pool with Yia Yia and Auntie M, and Aunt Beth and Gideon, and yesterday, we went to a nearby lake with Uncle Tim, Aunt Beth, and Gideon, and our friends Tim and Tanya and Katie and Travis.

Now, Charis is generally a fan of water. She is thrilled to take a bath; she makes a beeline for her kiddie pool every time we exit the house, regardless of the fact that she may have both clothes and shoes on. She just loves it--that is, unless her feet can't touch bottom. So when we were in the pool, for the most part, she clung to us like a magnet to a refrigerator. Ditto for the lake. She was just fine walking around in areas where the water was up to her tush, but get her much further than that, and she was a little tiny bit on the terrified side.

JUDAH, on the other hand, seems destined to be a fish. He kicked his little legs and pumped his fists the whole time he was in the pool, almost willing himself to swim. If I weren't such a skittish person, I would have tried to let him slip below the surface--I've heard that infants naturally hold their breath, and I've always wondered if that was true. But because I am not entirely willing for my kids to be guinea pigs in my own little experiments, I refrained. He seemed equally as pleased to be in the lake. It's fun to see their different personalities and likes and dislikes shine through, even at such tender ages. I know that, even months from now, I'll look back on this and think, that was NOTHING.

It's all one big learning experience, isn't it?

A couple of days ago, and, to be honest, even now, I hit it. I stumbled into one of those moments where I think I should just chuck it all and go back to work and let some more competent people raise my children. I mean, I know every mother feels like this from time to time, and I guess this was my moment. I just felt like the laziest, least qualified, most unmotivated lump of a mother. I questioned God's wisdom in granting me children. I couldn't tell you what precipitated this feeling, but I know that I fell right into its snare, clutching my list of faults: I let Charis watch too much TV, she doesn't have a balanced diet, I don't stimulate her brain enough, I am boring and unimaginative and lack creativity and energy, I am not spiritual enough...and on and on and on. Here's the thing: I do genuinely try to be a good mother...most of the time. But sometimes, I feel like I can't gear myself up for another day of trying to shape my kiddies into model citizens. On those days, I give in quite easily when Charis asks to watch her Pooh dvd, I aquiesce when she pleads for candy or her pacifier or (gasp!) a can of pop, I make up my own words to her books so the story ends sooner, I entreat her to play with her toys (rather than color pictures with her). I set Judah down for oh, sooo many naps, I let him linger underneath the play gym as long as he will stand it... On those days, I feel awful. I feel like my kids have been shortchanged. They deserve better, I think.

What's the answer? I am sure that I paint a much bleaker picture than is actually true. I was relieved today when, talking on the phone with my sister-in-law, she said, "I don't know what's wrong with me. I think I'm just really lazy." I know I am talking myself off the ledge here, so bear with me, but doesn't every mother feel like an utter failure occasionally? Doesn't every mother want to crawl in a hole sometimes, and wait until her kids are older--much, much older--to resurface? I want my kids to have and be everything--I want their clothes to be beautiful and spotless, I want them to have all the educational and imaginative toys they can stand, I want their minds to be sharp, I want them to excel at everything they try, I want them to be strong Christian leaders, I want them to be kind, helpful, respectful people. I want to have someone else teach them all of that, because some days, I don't have the first clue how to do any of it.

A friend of mine seems to know how to do it. She has some significant parenting challenges--challenges that would do me in--and she handles them with such beauty and grace. It is always inspiring to me. She takes her boys on treasure hunts around the neighborhood to seek out valuables such as pinecones and rocks. Who thinks of that? She learns how better to parent them and meet their cognitive, physical, and emotional needs. Who has that kind of energy? She is so godly, and handles each roadblock with such wisdom. Who has that kind of faith? Some days, I wish I could be just like her. But more than enything else she's said or done, one thing she said has really stuck with me--she said that, in the midst of some very difficult days, she has to remember that her first job as a parent is to prepare her kids for eternity.
"God has placed this gentle reminder on my heart: my first job as a Christian mother is to prepare my children for eternity. This life on earth is gone in a blink of an eye compared to eternity. Even if [my son] never catches up and is never like his peers (and possibly [his brother] too), I am still able to teach them about God's everlasting love and the gift of salvation that can be theirs. No matter what their future on earth holds, I know that if they accept Christ as their savior and spend eternity in heaven, they will be made perfect and whole. God never promised that parenthood would not have its share of heartaches and burdens (children who get caught up in drugs and alcohol, children who reject Christ, children who die untimely deaths, etc). I know that God has a wonderful plan for each of my children."

Doesn't that put it in perspective?

Charis may never be a swimmer. She may never go Ivy League. She may develop an imaginary friend named Pooh to compensate for the shortcomings of her boring mother. Judah may never love to read. He might not find a cure for cancer. He might fake sleep so he doesn't have to endure another session of "Who's That Baby In The Mirror?" because his mom can't think of anything better to do. But. If I do my job right, and focus on showing my kids NOT what a fantastic mother I am, but what a wonderful Savior they have--a Savior who loves them so much, He gave his own life so that they could live, a Savior who is unconcerned with the amount of flashcards they can do in a minute, but who knows their hearts and wants them to come and live with Him forever--then I am not a complete failure after all.

I am not entirely sure how to go about this, either, but I suppose prayer has a lot to do with it. I know God will give me what I need when I need it (and often not a second earlier). I believe that He sent His Son to bridge the gap between a fallen and sinful world and His outstretched arms, and I want my children to know it.

I suppose that love has a lot to do with it too. Charis may never be able to list all the presidents in order (I can't), and Judah may never feel comfortable with the inner workings of a transmission (I'm not), but if I love them as an extension of the Savior, I guess I'm right on track.

01 July 2006

A Rose By Any Other Name

Top Things We've Actually Called Our Children Instead of Using Their Given Names:

Chubs (these first two were used in her infancy)
Baby Girl

Ju-Baby (Charis coined this one when she decided, mid-word, she couldn't say Judah)
Bubba Gump
Judah Judah Bo Budah

I hope we don't scar them for life.