Wednesday, August 31, 2011

9 am...

Yesterday morning dawned clear and cool. After breakfast, I sent the kiddos outside to play while I cleaned up the dishes. After a few minutes, I went outside to see what they were up to. I heard their glee-filled voices coming from about 20 yards behind the house. From the famed and favored "Mountain". Mountain of dirt and bark that is.

Here's how I found them:

And, boy oh boy, were they dirty.

Filthy, even.

But, then they gave me looks like this one...

... and reminded that one of the ways my siblings and I loved to keep ourselves amused was by scooting down "mountains" on our bottoms in the woods behind our house (we were homeschooled after all)... and they were already as dirty as was possible--so, they continued to fill every crevice with dirt and whatnot.

Until they found something wayyyy more interesting...

Yes, they're orange, okay?? ;)

On the way to the bathtub, Aleni found yet another way to get messy:

And, of course, she had to stick her leg in... Well! I guess her bath is halfway done!

Bubble bath time!

Bubble baths are often accompanies by icees. You know, it's the thing to do.

Ready for the grossest drained tub ever?

Check the clock. It's not even 10 am.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

preschool bound

Noah posin' with a tube he found...

Ah, bittersweet words for this momma. At some point, I am sure I will write about our journey with Noah. For now, I'll just say we've decided preschool is the right decision for our firstborn.

Along with the difficulty that every mom experiences the first time they usher their child into the care of a school, I know I am bringing my own distinct perceptions that have me awake nights or tearing up at what lies ahead.

I was homeschooled, so it has been drilled into my head that that is the better way. That better parents homeschool. My mom did a miraculous job homeschooling the 10 of us--to such high standards that we were always ahead of our peers in the area of schooling. That being said, the social, dreamer part of me always longed for the magical element of having my own lunch bag and locker. Of bumming around a school with my very own gaggle of friends. Although the reality of school would probably not have lived up to my young dreams, I still know I was interested.

I also worked in a public, inner-city school for over 3 years, a school that served Pre-K through 4th grade. And I worked for about a semester as a teacher to 2 and 3 year olds in a private, Mexican school. Each time, I would pity the youngsters whose "selfish" parents would shuffle them off to school at the tender ages of 2, 3, and 4. "Let them be babies!" I would think to myself, "Nothing that we are teaching here are things that you can't teach them at home! They need to be with momma!"

So, with this background--I approached parenthood. I knew I wouldn't be a "die-hard" homeschool mom, but on the other hand... I knew I wouldn't send my kid to daycare or preschool.

Enter Noah. The boy that constantly teaches me that the point of parenthood is to prove you wrong. To reveal all those sneering attitudes I may have had towards other parents, and then cause me to gulp as I find myself in the same situation. To cause you to re-open issues you thought were closed, and to see people as individuals instead of "one-size-fits-all". To toughen up sensitive areas, and soften hard, snobbish views.

While we feel that we are making the right decision for this child, I am at a constant tug-of-war inside of myself. Should he go to preschool 2 days or 4? Should he go this year or next? Is it really the right decision for now?

I think I have found in the last few weeks that one of my biggest fears really is the fear of failure. I fear--or should I say... I am learning not to fear--failing at what I do. I fear failing as a friend. I fear failing as a wife. I fear failing as a mom, a role model, a child of God. Even as I write these words, I can feel the familiar icy grip on my heart. That same dreadful pressing that pushes me to commit to things I shouldn't, that whispers that I'm not good enough, that urges me that what is nessessary is far beyond my reach.

I know I am not alone in this fear, but facing that fear head-on has been prying open the lid to an old, dusty trunk hidden away in a corner of the attic. Rather frightening; perhaps a little smelly. But it has ultimately been very revealing and freeing.

I am a failure. There is no way I can succeed or be a success. That's where Jesus comes in. Since it is in our wiring that we will fail (aka "sin") or make short-sighted decisions (aka "succomb to our finiteness") it is imparitive that we look only to our perfect and all-seeing God for our sense of worth and direction. This was brought home to me a week or so ago during the worship center at our new church. As God's presence moved in me during the praise and prayer, I felt God asking me what was burdening me. What was causing me to feel that, no matter how hard I pedaled, my wheels were spinning in mud? What was scaring me so much that even words were failing me?

Fear of failure dropped into my heart, and then the floodgates opened. I bowed my head and opened my hands as I spoke those words back to God. I confessed to Him my fears, I handed Him back my treasured son. I told Him that I was scared for my baby, I was scared for our family. That I didn't want to fail, and that I often felt that I didn't have what it took to do what I needed to do.

And that's when God sat back and smiled. You're right, kiddo. You don't have what it takes. You will make mistakes. You are weary and looking for escape--but you are looking in all the wrong places. You need Me. In Me you will find that reassurance you keep trying to find in people. In My hands, even mistakes can be redeemed. My providence is unending, My wisdom is infinite. And, by the way, your family is Mine."

Deep, huh? I thought so. It also caused me to walk around with tear-swollen eyes for the next day or so, but that is just the goodness of God.

So, as the days between us and Noah's first days of preschool grow ever fewer, I continue to bolster up courage. I continue to dialogue with my Maker (and Noah's).

And, Noah shows me ways that he is readying for his new chapter in life:

Yay! Hand-control is coming!! Noah's first drawing of people... chalk on the front driveway. He made sure to draw in hair, ears and chins... even if they do seem to still be coming in for a landing. ;)

A foray into finger-painting the other day. He wrote the whole alphabet, his version I should say.

A, B, C, D, E, F...... (he did ask momma to write the "B" and the "F"... the rest are his though).

F, G, H, I, J, K, L....

M, N, O, P, Q, R, S....

T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z and a happy face. Because every alphabet should end with a happy face.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"that's soooo aleni..."

My baby girl is 18 months. She is to that point where I wonder if I should stop calling her "baby", but don't want to. We love her like crazy, and she loves us the same.

This girl is totally herself--so we often find ourselves recounting a story of something she did... and shaking our heads while saying, "That is sooo her."

She is a happy, easy-going girl. She isn't shy, but she doesn't want need to be the center of attention, either. She is always busy, always finding something to do. In a group, she usually is where everyone is--but doing her own thing.

Her easy-going nature is only interrupted when mean ole' mom or dad steps in to stop her flow. Then, an iron vein of determination is revealed. She isn't very moved by what others' response is or if it seems to bother them. She is only bothered if she herself is stopped from doing what she wants to do. She is learning, though... Sorry is becoming an often used word. Kisses are quickly following temper tantrums.

She is the queen of "looks". If she doesn't know you well, she will It cracks us up--since we know her to be generally pleasant and friendly. But beware if you are like the nice little boy at the pool who was trying to chat her up. She just froze completly and lowered her chin so she was staring at him through her eyebrows. And kept staring. And staring. The boy first chuckled, and then chuckled again--nervously this time. He looked at us as if to say, "I didn't do anything." Aleni will literally stare into people's eyes until they finally falter and flee.

At our family picture the other day, I had to feel bad for the photographer. No matter what crazy antics she tried, Aleni refused to smile. She sucked her lips in, biting them between her teeth and stared out over the lady's head. Completely bored with the whole thing. At one point she raised one eyebrow at the woman, as if to say, "Really, lady? Really??"

She is so good for Noah. She loves to catch him when he is just "peacing out"... she'll run up and tackle him to the ground--laughing crazily. They roll around until Noah breaks free and then it all begins again. Her fearless ways inspire Noah to try new things. Her forays into the forbidden show Noah that "it" is not even ok for her. He loves her and always shouts, "Baby's up!!!!!!!!" whenever he sees her comes out of her room.

So, she's a big personality. A ball of movement, determination and fun.

The other day, I bathed Aleni and got her all lotioned and in her jammies. She asked to go outside, and I said ok. I came out to find her doing this. Of course.

Even with her tight work schedule, she was gracious enough to share one of her little mischievious smiles that I love so much.

This also speaks of the girl she is. While playing in my room the other day, she decided this stool needed to be crawled through. There was no reason to crawl through it--except that it was there.
So, she grunted and groaned her way around the bars of the stool. And finally untangled herself. Of course.

She likes to just find places to sit and just enjoy being there. After I gave her this icee, she just found this perch on the step and sat there quietly for quite a while.

She likes playing in the rain. A lot.

She loves organizing things. She'll often take everything out of my cupboards--but usually will put everything back before she moves on. Here, she dumped all of these q-tips out of a bag from the bathroom, found that cup in the cupboard...

...And put them all in there.

Laners... stop growing, baby. We want to keep snuggling you and chasing you around the house so you get all crazy and giggle-y. We want you to keep doing "that thing" when you see someone sitting on the floor... when you just back up to them and plop down like you know they want you there. We want you to keep bringing us books to read to you. Just keep being you... and keep being our baby.

Love, Momma and Daddah.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

seeing like noah.

I have a feeling that as time goes on, there may be more installments of this nature. It is always so fun to see "how" Noah sees things--especially now that his vocabulary is growing. He has always been a kid that is into the tiny details. He will much more quickly notice the whisker on the kitten's face than the kitten itself.

He also often looks at objects and then thinks about what it is related to--often when he can't think of the correct word. He saw straw the other day and said, "Sheep."

I decided I should start recording some of the things he "sees"... just for fun.

We were looking at cards that go to a game the other day and Noah was naming what each card had on it.

When I held up this card, I knew he didn't know the word and I guessed he'd say "snake".

He said, "For the water!" (aka "Hose").

When I showed him this card he said, "Crayons!" Isn't this where you would keep your crayons?

Right away, Noah said, "Cows!" for this card. Oh, yes. Really, what else is this thing for?

When I was reading this book to Noah, he stopped me, "Look, mom! The moon!!"

He was pointing at the tree top on the right.

I have found some easy "I Spy" books at the library. When asked to find the white duck, he literally found it in a split second. I actually thought he was wrong, until I looked closer.

Did you find it? It is to the left of the house on the left. In contrast, it took him probably a full minute to find the train.

I apologize because this next image won't be as "un-touched" as the rest. We were looking at pictures in a coloring book, deciding which on to color, when Noah shouted, "Mom! Look! An 'e'!"

Do you see it? It is an upside-down lowercase 'e'--aka the sleeve of Moses's robe. I apologized, because I felt like all of the letters in the background might make you think that is why Noah was thinking letters. Nope, when he saw the 'e', the page was blank. From there, we went on to seeing what other letters he knew--hence the letters in the background.

That's all for now, folks! :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

glorious morn--encouraged by growth...

Morning shadows are long shadows. They are shadows that stretch out long behind you as you march toward the sun, or shadows that lean out in front as you walk away. Morning sun is a bright sun, a sun new and full of energy and promise.

Crisp mornings are meant to be spent outside, beneath that newly awakened star--making those stretchy shadows. Cool mornings call us out, beg us to breathe in their reviving essence and allow our eyes to twinkle from the light falling dappled through the tree branches.

There is something grounding about being outside on a morning such as this. About walking through a wooded park, listening to the birds' cheerful twitters and seeing the flutters and swoops of bird and butterfly in the fields. The breeze tickles our memories of childhood campouts, playing with friends. The earthy smell of leaves and moist ground arises and awakens thoughts and ideas that would have never lifted their groggy heads had they been kept indoors.

Having my two precious gifts out with me on a morning like this could only make this experience better. Especially when accompanied by my new BFF, the double stroller. We rolled and crunched our way down winding roads, exclaiming over the wonders of nature that stretched out before us every way we looked.

And I marveled most over the wonder of what was just inches from my finger tips. I looked amazed at my babies now not so small. I wondered at their sturdy bodies, ever growing, now sitting calm in the pure joy of being out. I smiled as I realized that even if most days it may not feel like it's true--these children are learning. And growing, And maturing.

They are learning to love and respect each other. They are learning to be at peace. They are learning to stand in awe of God's creation.

Lord, on hard days--let me remember the happy moments. Such as these.

Big brother chatting with baby sis:

Noah being okay with the fact that Aleni is very possessive of the snack bag.

A kid who once couldn't tolerate getting his picture taken has decided it's really fun to yell "cheese!" for the camera:

Which inspires his little sister to do her own version:

And then just be her own gorgeous self:

It appears Noah didn't get the "this-is-a-silly-face-picture" memo:

Noah was being goofy and wanted us to take a picture like this. How was I to know it'd look like I was his drill sergeant? ;)
Sometimes the baby of the family has to be the mature one:

Noah has one more silly face up his sleeve:

Noah can do some amazing imitations. He and daddy-o must have been watching baseball together:

"Here's the wind-up..." (complete with foot scuffing)

...And the pitch!" :)

And, P.S Lord? Let them remember the cool mornings, too.