Friday, October 31, 2008

Minus the beer and remote control

Seth is the quintessential phlegmatic. He loves nothing more than to sit reclining in his little comfy chair, watching a video, clutching his "clothie" and sucking his thumb. Sometimes he also wants his Sippy cup. Such was the case yesterday. "Mommy, I want my Sippy," he informed me.

"It's on your bed," I reminded him. "Just go and get it."

"No." He had a better idea. "You go get it."

Now, I'm no rocket scientist, but I can recognize a bad deal. "Sorry, Bud, get it yourself if you want it."

Seth muttered and grumbled, but didn't budge. A few minutes later, Anaya triumphantly marched in with it. "Here's your Sippy, Sethie," she practically curtsied. "Now don't you feel happy? Wasn't I being nice?"

"That was very nice of you," I responded, surprised at such angelic tendencies.

They were not altogether without ulterior motive. "Well, Sethie," she settled into the chair beside him, "now do you want to marry me?"

Bittersweet musings

This blog is, of course, mostly about my children, about the new lives that we have begotten, and their amusing adventures. But today struck a sad note in our lives--we received news that Alan's father had passed away. Though in many ways every day that he has lived for many years now has been a miracle, still it is sad to know that he is gone. But we "sorrow not even as others which have no hope" (I Thessalonians 4:13). For most of his life, Geoff drank deeply of the "pleasures" of the world, with bitter results of heartache and loss. Then, toward the end of his life, he became a more thoughtful, spiritual person, and in the last few months had given strong evidence to us of a meaningful, transforming relationship with God. It has been truly miraculous, watching God mold his life. We look forward to reunion with him someday.

But in the midst of our sadness at death, our children remind us of the bursting joys of life. Today, they briefly sobered at seeing Mommy and Daddy crying. But they gave "nuggles" and moved on quickly, romping through the day as we dealt with the blur of arrangements. Children are such a blessing! They filled the day with stories and songs.

This evening, after hours of intensity, Alan and I were drained. We decided to take a walk to the nearby playground for the kids to get a little sunshine and fresh air. Anaya was munching on an apple on the way, and complaining about a tooth hurting. "Can I go to the dentist to get it fixed?" she asked in excitement. Then she spotted a smudge of blood on her apple. "Look, Mommy!"

I examined her tooth. "It looks like your tooth is getting loose. Did you know that all of the little teeth in your mouth are going to fall out, and you will get new, big ones that you get to keep forever?" I asked.

I was prepared for an outburst of emotion at this. "Losing baby teeth can be unsettling and painful for young children," my sage Internet doctor had warned. "Suggestions for parents include: Reassure your child that losing baby teeth is a natural process and new adult teeth will come in their place...."

Dr. Internet didn't know my daughter. Anaya nearly leaped out of her skin at the thrill. "You mean I will get NEW teeth?! These teeth are going to fall OUT?" Such news was too good to keep secret. "You know WHAT?" Anaya shouted to a passing jogger. "I'm going to get new, BIG teeth! These little ones are falling out!"

What the poor lady thought, I'll never know. But Anaya was so excited I heard her exclaiming to herself on the way home. I caught a few words here and there. "...And I will get to keep them for-EVER!" etc.

We stopped to chat to our friend Stephanie Holtry on the way. "You know what?" Anaya shouted as soon as she saw her. (No, "Hello, how are you?") "I need to tell you something! I'm getting new TEETH! These little teeth are falling out!"

It was the same with the new neighbors that are moving in next door. "Can I tell you something?" she pleaded, bounding from one foot to the other. "I'm getting NEW teeth! Big, GROWN-up teeth!"

So in the midst of a day that reminds us of our mortality, it's good to have reminders of other things. Life is full of growth and change; little teeth die. But when you have hope, grief is all different.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not-so-spiritual gifts...

My children, like all others, have come into the world with uncouth tendencies. Skyler demonstrated one yesterday--the joys of flatulence. I have tried very hard to get my children not to comment too gleefully on such bodily emissions, as I fear what will happen someday when we are in public and they, or others, demonstrate said tendencies. I know, it's probably futile, if for no other reason than that two of them are boys.

But anyway, I was very pleased with the fruits of my training yesterday. Skyler let out a little--ahem--toot--and looked up at me cheerfully. "'Cu' me!" he squealed.

"Yay!" I applauded him, mentally patting myself on the back for doing such a good job of culturing my littlest follower. "You said excuse me!"

Skyler trotted away, his little round face alight. "Rrrrrt," he growled in the lowest voice he could muster. "'Cu' me! Rrrrt! 'Cu' me!"

Monday, October 20, 2008

Identity theft

Yesterday I scooped Skyler up out of his bed and said, "Well, there's an angel if I ever saw one!"

"No," he corrected, "I Skyer."

I appeal unto Caesar!

Skyler's name ought to be Me Too. Or maybe I'm Big Too. He is utterly enamored with the prospect of being as big as possible.

Which is probably why he's adopted a new name for Daddy. (No, it's not Mommy anymore.) Apparently he has noticed that the biggest people who come around our house (a.k.a. college students) have another name for Daddy: Dr. Parker. And since Skyler wants to be the biggest boy around, it follows naturally that he decided to address Daddy by this new, "big boy" name.


He is not deterred by the howls of laughter that this provokes in his parents, who are still somehow unable to hold back the giggles at his self-importance. Or the gentle corrections, that this is "Daddy."

This morning I put on a worship video for the kids while I was having my own devotional time. Skyler, however, had determined that the only video he wanted to watch was about bugs. "Buds!" he pleaded repeatedly.

"No, Skyler, it's worship time now. It will be bug time later," I kept replying firmly. Eventually he was reaching hysteria, so I warned him he was going to have to go back to bed if he didn't stop crying.

Suddenly he decided to invoke a higher authority. He sobered and looked me in the eye. "I want see Paka."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Screech rides again

I am trying to keep the noise factor around our house down, within reason. When the kids scream at the top of their lungs, I try to gently persuade them that there are better ways to play. However, there's nothing that satisfies little boy urges like a good solid screamfest, and I distinctly remember that feeling (having been the unfortunate bearer of the same tendency only thirty years ago, myself). So I try to be understanding, and keep my rebukes to the minimum, when a good screech party is in session. Instead of telling them to stop altogether, I marvel at their abilities and then try to redirect after a little while.

Yesterday, in absence of my participation, I overheard Skyler affirming his own abilities, creating his own little marvel-fest.

SCREECH! This was followed by a murmur of self-approval. "Wow, dat wuv youd!" ["Wow, that was loud"--I recognized it instantly as a quotation from me, and nearly howled with laughter myself.]

SCREECH! "Wow, dat wuv youd!"

He entertained himself like this for quite a while.

That's what I said

Today when Seth was sitting on the potty, I asked him several times if he had finished, with no response. Finally I said, "Seth, have you finished? You need to say yes or no."

"Yes or no," he muttered obediently.

Ignorance is bliss

Yesterday Anaya asked if she could go out on the front porch and "read the Bible." "I just want to be alone, Mommy," she confided. I let her, and from the sounds that floated in through the window, I judged she was having a great time--sitting on the steps singing and talking to herself, "reading" her little pink New Testament.

Sethie thought it sounded like fun too. "Mommy, I go porch to wead too?" he requested.

I poked my head out the door. "Anaya, Sethie wants to come out on the porch and be with you."

"No, Mommy, I want to be by myself. He might disturve me."

"But Anaya, you know what the Bible says," I reminded her, "you should love your brother as you love yourself, and do things to make him happy."

She didn't even pause to ponder. "I didn't read that verse yet!"

Despite my sympathies with her desire for a few moments alone, I did let Seth come out on the porch. (Amid wails of, "He might dis-turve me, Mommy!") Within a couple of minutes I heard shouts of a different sort. "Mommy, look what we found! A roly-poly!" Joy and gladness were restored all around.

At least, for everyone except the poor roly-poly bug.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wresting the Scriptures to your own destruction?

The kids have been learning I Corinthians 13 in Scripture song form lately. I didn't think Seth really understood the words, though.

Then today, out of the blue, Seth made a somber comment. "I don't want my body to be burned."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Liar, liar, pants...

After Seth's potty training success on Friday (he FINALLY pooped in the potty!), I was hoping for no further accidents. Sigh. This morning I got a whiff as he passed by. "Seth, did you make guckies in your Pull-Up?"

"No," he responded cheerfully.

"Are you sure? Skyler, is it you?"

It was not Skyler. "Sethie, you need to tell me the truth. You won't get a spank for poopy, but you will for telling lies. Did you make poopy in your Pull-Up?"

"No..." The assertion was a little softer now.

"Let me see." I started unzipping his little sleeper. "Tell Mommy the truth. Did you make guckies in your Pull-Up?"

The answer was faint this time. "Sowy."

As I hauled him off to the bedroom to change him, he had a change of mind instead. "Mommy," he explained solemnly, "Skyer did it."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hops and hopes

Seth and Skyler recently had a little fungal scalp infection. It was very mild, and I only noticed at first because I was picking absently at a little flaky spot of Seth's scalp and several hairs came off in my hand. I took him, and later Skyler, to our dermatologist friend, who prescribed some medicine. I hadn't really talked to the boys much about it, but of course they had been around when I had talked about it with the doctor, Alan, etc.

Apparently Seth absorbed more information than I knew. At least, more than I knew until today when he commented to me, with a little question in his voice, "My hair not going to fall out."


Today at naptime I read Sethie a few stories, then told him, "Okay, Buddy, naptime. Hop into bed."

He leaped toward his bed with uncharacteristic enthusiasm. "Hop!" he shouted.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

See with new eyes

Having a few spare minutes this afternoon, I decided to empty the trash. I brought our bathroom trash basket into the kitchen to empty it into the kitchen trash. Skyler bounced into the kitchen after me and grabbed the empty trash can. "Hat!" he squealed.

Getting a whiff of him, I made my own exclamations, and set off to remedy the situation. While I was changing his diaper, however, he had another revelation. Grabbing the closest thing that looked like a toy, he slipped it on. "Hat!" he pronounced joyously.

(At least it was the clean diaper.)

In the meantime, Anaya wandered into the room and found the trash can Skyler had abandoned. "Oh, look! A hat!"

(And in case you might be familiar with African pot holders, yes, that is one in her hand, which she had temporarily transformed into a shepherd's rod.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Name recognition

Sethie is developing quite a little sense of humor already. This week when I was driving with the boys, I saw a herd of cows. "Look, Sethie! Cows!" I called toward the back seat.

"Dose not cows. Dey horses," he chortled.

Skyler's linguistic skills are taking off too, amusing us in other ways. Tonight, Skyler surprised us all by sashaying up to Saralyn (our lifesaving babysitter, who the kids adore) and calling her by name.


"He knows my name!" Saralyn gasped.

"What's her name, Skyler?" I asked, pointing to Saralyn.


This was greeted with cheers on all sides, from Daddy, me, Saralyn and her sister Karie. (Skyler was more delighted than anyone else, particularly at the unexpected shower of praise.) "Finally!" Saralyn laughed. "I'm not 'Daddy' anymore!"

Sethie rushed over to investigate what all the cheering was about. "Sethie," I prompted, "what's her name?" I pointed to Saralyn.

A naughty grin crept across his little face. "Daddy."

The hazards of cleanliness

The boys love to "help" me with the laundry, shoving wet clothes into the dryer or reaching up over their heads to chuck things into the washing machine. After doing his part to fill the washing machine the other day, Seth asked me to pick him up so he could see the clothes inside. I hoisted his little body up and showed him the water churning around in the machine. "See, Sethie? The clothes are getting all washed clean."

"Ooooh," he breathed. "Dey drowning."

Heavenly potty time

"Mommy! MOMMY!" Anaya shouted from her room this morning.

"What?" I called back, figuring it must be some new emergency with choosing an outfit for the day.

"Will we go potty in heaven?"

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sanguine, you think?

Anaya was bragging last night to one of our little visitors, Sarah Hasel, about her many pretend friends.

"I don't believe in pretend friends," Sarah countered. "I used to have them when I was little, but I don't anymore."

"I don't need them when people are around," Anaya replied. "But when there are no people, THEN I need them."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Same song, different verse

Waiting five years to get married is, apparently, too difficult for our little bride. (A common problem here at Southern.) Anaya decked herself out in her white angel costume this afternoon and announced that she was marrying Daddy. ("I'm just going to pretend he hasn't gotten married to someone else," she confided.) After a very brief ceremony (Daddy was ironing), she proceeded to the kitchen to announce herself to me as a married woman. "Mommy, I'm married! Now I'm going to get a baby in my tummy!" She giggled. "Boy, that will be a lot of responsi-BIL-ity."

"Are you sure you want to have one now?" I asked. "That's pretty fast."

She was certain. Full of glee, she stuffed Seth's doll up her shirt and strutted around the house for a while. "Mommy, how many days did you have the baby in your tummy before it came out?" she asked.

"Nine months."

"Hmm. Okay." Her nine months flew, because a few minutes later I heard some grunting and groaning in the other room, followed by a triumphant cry. Anaya dashed to me, a doll wrapped in a blanket in her arms. "Isn't she BYOO-tiful?"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Happily ever after, whether you like it or not

I overheard a conversation between Anaya and her little friend Aile this week, about their two-year-old brothers.

"When I get big, I'm going to marry Sethie," Anaya declared.

"You can't," Aile countered, "because I wanted to marry Brenner, but my mommy told me you can't marry anybody in your family."

"I don't care. I'm going to marry Sethie anyway."

"You can't!" Aile was not impressed with Anaya's willingness to defy what Mommy said. "You can't marry anybody in your family!"

At this point I affirmed that Aile's mommy's assessment was accurate. "No, Anaya, you really can't marry anyone in your family."

"You'll see," Anaya assured us. "I WILL marry Sethie."

Last night I heard some murmured conversation in the living room. Words like "wedding" and "marry" were featuring prominently, so I slipped in to listen better.

"Mommy," Anaya greeted me, "when Sethie is this many years old--" she held up all ten of her fingers, splayed enthusiastically, "THEN I will take him to the church and show him where we will marry!"

"We mawwy!" Seth burst in, on board with Anaya's plan, for once.

Hey, who am I to argue? I'm really not thinking this is going to be a problem five years from now. I'll be happy if they just want to stay in the same house when she's ten.

This morning when Anaya was howling about how Sethie wanted to get under her blankie, I figured out that this could even be useful.

"Mommy, make Sethie get out from under my blankie! That's where I want to be!"

"If you are going to marry him," I pointed out brilliantly, "you're going to have to share everything with him. You'd better start practicing."

"I don't want to share everything! Give me that, Sethie!" she yanked on her blankie.

"Be careful," I cautioned. "If you aren't nice to him, he's not going to want to marry you."

"I don't care," grumbled my little lovebird. "I'll marry him anyway."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Party like a...slave

When I asked Anaya what kind of birthday party she wanted for her fifth birthday, it didn't take her long to decide. "A Harriet Tubman party!" she shouted. And from that moment on, nothing would persuade her otherwise. (For those of you who don't know, Harriet Tubman was an escaped slave who became a "conductor on the Underground Railroad" leading other slaves to freedom, back in the Civil War days.)

Have you ever Googled "Harriet Tubman birthday party"? (I would guess not.) You don't come up with anything useful, I can tell you. (Here's a little trivia: did you know that Harriet Tubman didn't even know when her birthday was?) So I was a little stumped at first as to what to do. I mean, I'm thrilled that Anaya has such a great heroine. I just don't know how to party about slavery.

Then common sense caught up with me. How hard can it be to make slave food? (Cheap, too!) I discovered with very little research that blackeyed peas, collard greens and sweet potatoes featured prominently. So, off we went to the store to get the required foods. I substituted kale for collards, since my kids love kale already (and aren't crazy about sweet potatoes, either). We also had some leftover lentil soup from making lunch for about 15 girls that day. Anaya really wanted a coconut cake (ironic--a white cake for a slave party).

Well, the cake was the first thing to tackle. With a burst of inspiration, I added a handful of chocolate chips and explained to Anaya that this symbolized blacks and whites uniting. Naturally, it all had to be covered with a layer of pink Cool Whip, anyway, but at least I knew what was underneath. A sheet of Diego faces from the cake decorating section of the store (if you don't know who Diego is, he looks like a pretty good slave) and five pink candles completed the cake.

You can see we had a pink tablecloth and pink flowered plates (Sorry, there aren't a lot of slave-themed paper plates out there. Harriet Tubman must have liked flowers, right? She spent so much time sneaking through nature), with pink napkins. We all feasted on sweet potatoes and blackeyed peas (and bread with spreads--not authentic, oh well). Since I had read that slaves sometimes weren't even given salt, I toyed with the idea of not salting the blackeyed peas until after the kids had tasted them. But at this age, the first taste decides everything, so never mind authenticity. We watched Anaya's Harriet Tubman DVD during supper.

Then it was time for the Harriet Tubman game. Never played it? Easy. Blindfold some slave owners (our faithful daddies, Michael Hasel and Alan), put little toys (in our case, plastic game pieces) in several different rooms, and send screaming children to fetch the "slaves" in different rooms and bring them to the safe haven of the dining room table (a.k.a. Pennsylvania). This must be done without being caught by the slave owners, who will summarily dump said children into the "jail" in the living room to await being delivered by other children.

You can imagine it was a success. Actually, you could call it a screaming success.