Two.

Due dates are good for two things: 1) labor 2) a ‘perfect’ day.

Two years ago on March 17, I got both.

In college, my roommate Christie and I pranced around Europe for a summer, creating ‘perfect’ days whenever we wanted. Usually these consisted of LOTS of coffee, gelato, writing, exploring and as many nutella-filled crepes as we could put in our belly. The point of a ‘perfect’ day being, create your ideal day and do it.

When El was born, nine days after her due date, I created LOTS of ideal days to keep my mind off of the whole WHEN WILL SHE COME? bit. The last thing I expected was for Claire to arrive on her due date, but she did. You can read her birth story here (it’s actually one of the most read posts on this blog – 9 lb babies get lots of attention).

Two years later and sweet Claire is our little light. I can’t believe she is a few short months away from being a big sister!

Claire,

Hi pretty girl. You’re TWO now! I’m much less intimidated by age two than I was the first go around. It helps that you fill our days with sweet snuggles, affection and laughter. I’ve never been around a more snuggly human being than you – my sweet one. You love to melt into us and each time I want it to last forever. Right now, as I type this, you’ve climbed up next to me on the couch and sit contentedly mushed into me. It’s like crack.

Speaking of crack, pink doggy’s still around…

I swear when you’re in labor, there will be no need for an epidural. We’ll just put pink doggy’s tail under your nose and EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE! Also right now? You’re taking a hit of pink doggy’s tail.

Sometimes I still can’t believe we get to have you as our daughter. You and your sister bring us endless joy and we LOVE watching you two love on each other. Yesterday we went to get donuts at Roths, and in your sweet excitement, you ran up to your sister and grabbed her hand and I wanted to die of happiness right on the spot. El adores you. She can’t wait for you to get up for naps and is constantly keeping her eye out for you. So far, this has been for the best.

Example:

El: MOM! Cware has her hands in the toilet!

Me: WHAT?! (runs into bathroom)… NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOU: hahahahahahahaha

Literally, both hands were in the toilet and you were scooping toilet bowl water into your moth.

Girl, I love you so much – but if there is something gross to eat or touch or drink – you’re the one to do it. I’ve caught you MORE THAN ONCE playing with the toilet brush (one time you thought it was a tooth brush….), you love eating out of the trash, toilets are your friends, and you have been known to stick your hands down your diaper… bringing back a nice glob of poo to share. It will be a miracle if you survive toddlerhood.

On a not-gross note: you loooove chocolate milk. Actually, anything chocolate. You call it “NOKOLAT.” Your other favorite food is cheese. If cheese were the only food that existed, you’d be perfectly happy.

Your personality is exploding these days. You are mostly happy and incredibly expressive. You have this coy little smile that just kills us – and girl, you know how to work it. Our biggest issue with you is your escapism from your bed. It’s gotten much better, but when we initially transferred you – you’d walk out of your room holding pink doggy quietly until we noticed you, and then that ridiculous smile would creep on your face and all I could do was laugh. Totally a parenting fail.

You are a little ham. You love to dance and say, “shake your booty! shake your booty!” Anytime music is playing, you’re moving. You also love to roar like a dinosaur. Dinosaurs are you and your sister’s FAVORITE THING EVER.

Your tantrums are mostly tolerable, honestly. We don’t get too worked up over them because they’re either hilarious or easily quieted and they’re mostly sparse. You had your biggest fit the other day when it was waaaaaay past naptime and you were thirsty. All hell broke loose when I wouldn’t give you my coffee. Kicks and screams and wailing!!!! Sorry girl, you’re a second born. I’m just not that phased anymore. Well, except when you drink toilet water. Maybe when number three comes around I’ll be ok with toilet water.

I think you’re going to do just fine as a big sister. You show more interest in our baby to be every day. This morning you patted my belly and gave it several smooches, saying “hi baby, hi baby.” I can’t wait to see you step into your new role.

Clairesy, we love you soooo much. You really do light up our lives. Happy Two, little one.

Mama

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Sunday morning prayers

For four and half years we stepped out our front door, walked 50 steps, and TA-DA! At church. And work. In many ways, living at church was awesome because the wee ones could nap, potty train, play, and do all things kid related without putting them in car seats and driving away first.

But I missed having a commute to think, zone out, listen to music, enjoy the scenery, pick my nose, or pray. All of which I like to do going from point A to point B. Yes, sometimes I pick my nose when I drive. I bet you do too.

With the new move, however… COMMUTE! Fun!

We’re really excited for what God is doing with JD as the new youth pastor at a church, and so on Sunday mornings, the girls and I pray for him in the car, on our way to church (with just a small stop at the drive thru Starbucks).

Last Sunday, El’s prayer went something like this:

DEAR GOD (yes, in all caps),

Please help Ellie not to be scared of the bears.

Please help Claire not to be scared of the lions.

PLEASE HELP US GET TO STARBUCKS!

Amen.

It’s the little things, really, that make having kids so darn awesome.

all in a day’s work.

If you know my girls, or have at least met them, you know their energy abounds. Multiple times people have commented that their energy is unmatched to any toddler girls they’ve known. Others comment that they are like little boys, except not (?). Both moms insist their kids were nothing like ours in the way of energy.

ARE YOU CATCHING MY DRIFT?

There were moments this week in Portland, with my dear dear parents, where I wanted to just pull my hair out because OH!MY!GOSH!!! THE ENERGY!!! IN A CITY!!

A glimpse, if you will:

And so in this new normal of ours I pray. A lot. Nothing profound. Mostly, “help. please.” And you know, energy, guidance, GRACE, and more energy. Yes mom, I WILL look into taking iron supplements as well.

But today, today was grace.

Somehow everything lined up so the girls were playing together, coloring on paper and dressing in purple skirts, and I managed to sit down with coffee and a book that I pretended to read in high school. Except I SO DIDN’T. On Josiah and Renee’s bookshelf (friends we’re staying with) I found Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and having just experienced incredible community but now not-so-much-because-we-moved, I thought, sure. Let’s give it a go again.

And oh boy howdy is it all sorts of good and convicting and encouraging.

But this post is not about that.

I snuggled under a flannel blanket with this book and my coffee and then the three year old came over to me with a book in hand and asked if she could snuggle…. RIGHT?!! So great. So we snuggled and I loved every second so much I thought maybe I’d burst. After a while Claire awoke from her nap and I decided, Let’s get lunch started.

Let’s get lunch started might as well have been the equivalent to pushing the crazy button because get ready for the next forty minutes of my day:

Still in my dreamy mood, I notice some cucumber fresh from the garden on the counter and think YES. Clearly it is a cucumber, olive, and feta cheese salad day and OBVIOUSLY the girls will love a few bites of cucumber while I make mac and cheese.

Except in Ellie’s excitement to eat Larry the Cucumber, she wasn’t able to distinguish taste from character and said of the personified vegetable, “Larry the Cucumber isn’t very nice.” And Claire just went ahead and threw hers on the ground. Which is fine because I didn’t have high expectations and hey, we tried right?

Macaroni and cheese is served and for THREE MINUTES all that is noise is the sound of munchy cheeks and happy bellies. When I looked up from fantasyland after tweeting about my delicious lunch and saw the beginnings of macaroni and cheese head. Claire was in the process of scooping her saucy spoon onto her head and rubbing the sauce around in her hair, while Ellie was sticking noodles up her nose. Sure.

All pau! I announce and begin the clean up. Claire is made to pick up her mess on the floor and Ellie, ever the charmer, puts both bowls in the sink. Knowing naptime is soon, I let the girls go outside so I can tend to my feta. Olive in mouth, and the scream is so curdling I honestly thought she broke something. Outside in seconds to find an Ellie on the grass clutching her foot wailing as if death is upon her all because she fell and scratched her foot a bit. MOMMY KISS IT! KISSSSSS ITTTTTTT!!!!!!!! I kiss. MOMMY HUUUUUUUG MEEEEEEEE!!!!!! I hug. MOMMY CAN YOU HOOOOOLD ME!!!!!????? I hold. Of course I hold. Best part of being a mom.

I let her know that she’s ok, that it’s a scratch and that she’s doing a good job of playing hard. She dusts herself off and heads to the potty. Meanwhile, Claire’s macaroni head is killing me so I grabbed the phone and documented the crazy (she’s nearly edible).

Minutes go by and El is still gone so we head inside and I check on her in the bathroom.

Toilet paper is wrapped around her foot like an ace bandage and El says, “I was hurt VERY Badly. I fell down because I was playing very hard.” Snap snap!

Leaving Claire and El in the bathroom for a few seconds, I go to grab… something? I don’t know. And then the toilet bowl starts singing to me in splashes and swirling.

Claire somehow, in a few seconds, discovered my razor and proceeded to swish it around the toilet, both hands in.

And then I just had to take another picture.

At that time I decided a bath was in order and put the girls in to soak.

And then I laughed. A lot.

And gave thanks. For cucumbers and messy heads and three year old drama and cups of coffee and messy floors and makeshift bandages. Because this is life and it’s messy and SO NOT glamorous and when I put the book down about community and Christ and how it is only through Christ that Christians are bound together, and how it’s grace and then wipe messy faces a billion times and pick up crayons and think about how theology and real life intersect and how it really does go together but sometimes it’s hard to fit macaroni up the nose with writing by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Then… when the girls go down… I picked up the book again and read this (the context is about community and thankfulness in community, but it fits today too):

We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what He does give daily…

Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts.

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It goes on and there’s more, but I am thankful for the grace to laugh and thank God for these treasures in energetic little girls who have a lifetime of chaos and beauty ahead of them.

In this season I am learning of daily bread and provision in all things. And I’m really really thankful.

reborn

Sometimes it’s all too much and I need perspective and so I grab the camera. The graduation present from college that is my tool for creativity, that and the pen. When I’m warped with insecurity and the heaviness of my pain and the pain of others confronts and doesn’t back down I take the girls in bright dresses outside before the big rainfall and I watch and shoot, searching for perspective, looking to see.

She notices the tree that tricked us with its fruit. Giant round spheres of lime promised for fresh citrus turned sour and unripe. They are Hawaiian oranges that will turn yellow as the sun heats the island in summer. Her mission is clear and she wants the fruit, to throw and peer at, ultimately to be left on the earth’s surface for birds.

It won’t be consumed because it’s not edible. It’s not good.

I’m taking the pictures and I’m back in the Garden and remembering thoughts written by Ann Vonkamp about the Garden and original sin.

The too much, the trust that I lack and the heaviness of pain felt is rooted in the Garden sin.

God’s not good… I’ve not said and yet I’ve believed it.

I’ve believed it when fear cripples me and insecurity tells me I’m not enough. I’ve not known what to say when the wounds are exposed because I’m not the Healer and I know Who is but I haven’t given my own wounds over.

She dances on tiptoe and she practices walking on uneven ground. Their glory is in this space and time, forgetting the impatience of their parents and thinking now only of gulping water-saturated air and moving. Always moving. There is stillness in her moving. She is antsy but for what? More fruit. Higher fruit. This fruit is not enough.

He’s not enough, I’ve allowed myself to believe. If I let go of my fear then I’ve lost all control.

And isn’t that what He quietly summons for? Waits for? Is ever patient for?

My fingers adjust camera’s settings and I click but my mind is on the Garden and the Lie and how Jesus is Truth and do I believe it. How mothers’ greatest fear is in losing the child and is HE GOOD ENOUGH? And mine haven’t been taken but I know those whose have. And on this island in the middle of the ocean have I been forgotten and is HE enough? When people aren’t perfect and not even nice and the deepest parts of me have been battered and instead of offering my wounds to the Healer I’ve settled in licking them myself.

Watching her dance and her walk to fall and get up again I know freedom is in the surrender. But do I have the faith to surrender, to fall and not catch myself but to allow myself to be caught? Is HE GOOD ENOUGH? If I let go am I willing it to happen? With my fingers clenched tight my muscles cramp but I fake control. Mama! Can you get the fruit? And I’m here and I focus and swing the camera behind my back and pick the fruit that will never taste and it’s a toy for her, but rich in meaning to me.

She looks at me and smiles, turns and practices independence. I realize I’m tired of independence. Tired of the part that says I’m enough, because I’m not.

My daughters dance and I sense their freedom. Freedom comes when we give up on the Lie, when we surrender and know HE IS GOOD and that we aren’t enough but HE IS and the nails in the flesh and the tomb rolled away are marks of the Healer and won’t I let Him heal?

In this act of capturing small moments of life my heart soars and my daughters are these in the Kingdom and I have much to learn. God is Good. God is Good. I start to believe it as I practice thanksgiving for treasures in small feet and eager hearts and streaks of sun-bleached hair on my toddler-daughter.

When it is done and it’s all there in front of me I watch my daughters as they play and we go inside, a near miss to the rain that pours after slippers are left at the door.

My camera is placed in the bag and we are on to dinner but I’ve been transformed and the Creator God whose Image I’m made in has spoken to me in the creation and the Cannon caught and so did my heart. We begin anew and this is being reborn.

family circus.

Tired mother sits on couch doing make-up.

Toddler sits down next to mother, grabs nice eye shadow brush, puts in ear. pulls out of ear with ear wax. Toddler then shoves blush brush in mother’s face as she puts on mascara.

Mother sighs.

Toddler asks, “what’s wrong, mommy?”

Mother says, “I’m learning patience.”

Toddler nods, “oooh.”

 

True story. Now someone draw it.