Archive of ‘Kids’ category

Chocolate Chip Grace

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He came home from work with a blue paper plate of chocolate chip cookies. The kids greeted Daddy with a hug and their eyes got big as they took in the dessert. We would save it in the cupboard until suppertime.

I returned to washing dishes and the kids returned to playing legos in their room. My belly kept bumping against the edge of the sink, thirty-nine and a half weeks pregnant as I was. Rinsing the dishes, my mind hearkened to the blue plate in the cabinet (more…)

Sweet Sleeping Babes

2014_10_14_IMG_4200It’s the end of a long day and I’m 36 weeks pregnant. The thought of cool sheets on my round belly sounds sublime.

But one last thing: flick the light on in the hallway, tiptoe over to bunk beds.

Heave myself gently over the side rail that keeps my two-year-old from rolling onto the floor. He is a little jelly bean in the center of a vast bed, (more…)

Give an Ear to the Girl With the Perm

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This is the first post in a series about choosing to live the moments we are given wholeheartedly, remembering our days are short.

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“What’s your favorite subject in school these days?” he asks. I’m wearing pink glasses and have a fresh perm; it must be 1989.

“I love art class, but in Social Studies we’re…” my voice fades away as I notice his gaze scanning the room.

“Hey, nice tie, Pete!” he yells across the room to my father, who’s wearing a holly bow-tie with berries that light up.

I look over at the tie, back toward my uncle, then drop my head a bit as (more…)

Come to CandyLand, Lockjaw Lady

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It’s 3:45am. We roll out of bed, slip on jeans. Contacts are gritty on tired eyes. Xavi sleeps with little knees tucked up under his chest, a roly-poly. I rustle his soft mop, whisper that it’s time to go, lift him into my arms and feel the fleecy warmth of sleeping babe.

Sweetpea hears us. “It’s today, Mommy!” she starts laughing excitedly. “I’m sooooo happy, Mommy!”

We’re driving down dark streets, onto empty highway, making fast time on clear roads. The kids are smiling in the back, Xavi exclaiming over spotlight moon, Sweetpea yelling about stars, the two of us grinning in the front seat, their joy like molecules, seeping into our noses and caressing our cheeks.

The lady behind the counter has lockjaw. (more…)

Praise God the Blinds Fell Not in Poo

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It’s November. My whole family is sitting around the table for some hasty sandwiches, and an alarm sounds: beep-beep-beep-beep. Pause. Beep-beep-beep-beep.

The hubby investigates. “Carbon monoxide!” he calls out, anxious. “I think I’m feeling wobbly.” The kids are not pleased with the high-pitched sound (the beep, not my hubby’s voice).

“Let me go check it out,” I say, marching into my daughter’s room where the little machine is screeching. I press the button and hold to reset, then turn off the furnace and begin opening windows. All seems well for about two minutes, until the beeps resume.

“I’m coming,” says the fire chief when I call.

As we are sitting around the table popping chunks of frozen mango into our mouths, Xavi suddenly begins to struggle. He is 21-months-old, so the gag reflex is still in full swing. But he truly can’t breathe this time.

“Choking!” I sputter, “Xavi is choking!” (more…)

A Picnic in Heaven

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This year has been full of those sunny days that make you think it’s still the beginning of September, though geese are already honking their way South and the helicopters in the maples are dry as bones. Who can resist the call of the warm sun on skin, bribing you to slow down into its transient beauty? Rest, enjoy, soak…winter will be here soon enough.

Lunches have been taken in the backyard, batting away the yellow jackets and wishing to forget all our chores and play hookie. The kids have gotten their swinging in, and we lie belly-down on the crunchy grass, reading books and rolling toward the rays as the sun moves and the trees give shadow.

It’s those moments when we return to the house and our chores and schedules that the eyes have a hard time adjusting. It’s dark inside; we are sun-blind. I would race back out and live in the brilliance of Indian summer. If only life were always autumn.

There’s gonna be a picnic in heaven and I’m gonna be there. There’ll be a great big table in heaven, with plenty of food to share…my daughter wants to listen to this every day.

“Nanu and Poppy and Grandma and Grampa will be there together, right?” she asks. “And all the people from California too!”

I laugh. Then she looks straight at me and says, “And Gracie and Ewan. They won’t be sick.”

They are acquaintances, grandchild of a colleague’s wife and daughter of a woman I’ve only met three or four times. But children, little ones, barely in Kindergarten and fighting cancerous tumour in their gut, cancer in their bones, body turning against fresh life. She says it and I cannot hold back the tears. Weeping for the surprise of it, for the hope of it, my innocent child so excited for the picnic in heaven, for the world of her longings, where all the fun grandparents will be together, everyone will enjoy watermelon at the endless table, and the bodies of babies will not betray them.

There’s gonna be a picnic in heaven…we need this hope. We need autumn days full of sunshine and bright leaves to fill us up before the bitter weeks of winter and its uncomfortable beauty. We need promise to hold us through the dark days, joy to turn back to and say, But I know God was there, He was there, and He was there. He must be here somewhere now too. We need picnics to dream of.

Your 30s Are Not About You

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“Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday Uncle Tyson…”

As we sing his 37th birthday song into the speaker phone, he is saying, “Max, please give me that car.” We hear vroom-vroom in the background, along with a baby’s cry, but the children in our living room have gathered around a djembé and are cooking up their best tribal drumming while we attempt to talk on the phone.

“So, did you do anything fun for your birthday?”

“You know, I stayed home all day for my birthday. But next year I’m going to work,” he chuckles. In the background, Max is revving his engines and sounds like he is running circles around Daddy.

My 1-year-old is jumping in the air and landing on his diaper-clad bottom on the hardwood floor, dissolving into hysterical giggles. His older sister thinks it must be fun if he’s laughing so hard, so she tries it too. Boom! Ha ha ha. Boom! Ha ha ha. Boom! Boom! Hardy-har-har!

Tyson says, “So, did you go camping recently, Rob?”

On our end, the kids are now galloping up and down the hallway, Melanie alternately dragging her brother and egging him into chasing her. The laughter and the tears are very close together.

“Yeah. Backpacking up north, actually.” A moment later, Melanie turns off the last lamp in the living room, and we are in complete darkness. Tito starts crying and walks into the coffee table. “Melanie, stop turning off the lights!” says Rob, but it’s so dark that no one can find the switch.

“Well, I should probably let you guys go.”

“Yeah,” we say. “Have a happy birthday.”

Besides the brief sentences spaced apart by screams, instructions, and pounding feet, the conversation was more like bodies on each end of the phone sharing the noises in their respective monkey houses. The thing is, phone manners aside, your thirties are not about you. These are the years of giving things up, like being the center of attention on our birthdays, or having a relaxing phone exchange in the presence of our preschool children, or laughing hard without peeing our pants.

Yep…there will be different days someday, but right now, it’s not about me. Maybe that’s the first lesson of the second half of life.

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