Saturday, February 17, 2018

Midnight Conversations

Abba? I have a question.

Go ahead, My child.

Why did You call me to this? Give me a womb that didn't work but a heart so big it begged to be filled? Why did You ask me to do the impossible? To mother children who come from such hard places that it makes me want to tantrum with the unfairness of it all?  To see them suffer with the horrible scars of caregivers before and not be able to do anything about it? I'm just me. I'm not Superwoman. I'm not really that much of a mom, truth be told. I'm not sure I'm up to the task, and this one's a doozy. Why choose me?

My child, that's more than one question.

I see you quirking your eyebrow at Me. I created language, and know very well how to parse it, dear one. [chuckling] Much like you, when your children try to do the same with you. Very well. I will grant that it's several questions along the same vein, and I would never turn back from an open dialogue.

Do you remember when the possibility first was brought up of those three little ones coming to you?

Yes, Abba. There was no question that they needed us.

Did you think I didn't see your heart? You already loved them. They were your nieces. There was no question that you would take care of them. They needed you. Your only hesitation was on whether your brother would follow through. And, exactly as you expected, he didn't...but by then the girls were safe with you. You did not hesitate for care for those essentially orphaned. You gave out of the abundance of your heart.

Abba, this still doesn't explain why.

How many times have you told your friends of the fierceness of an adoptive mother's love? You had that in you. I knew you did. You've met and connected with other moms with nothing more than that between you. "How cool is that," you said, when you read a novel—

I knew You were going to bring that up.

[laughs] Do you really think it was an accident you read that book and loved that story, of a couple taking in five children who needed parents? Do you think it was an accident that you loved the stories of the O'Malleys and their intentional family, carved out of foster care? No, My child, it was not. Your heart has always been that huge. I know. I made it.

You're talking in riddles, Abba.

Your big heart has taken quite a beating in the last few weeks, hasn't it? You ache deeply tonight and that's why you come to Me with this line of questions. Your children have hard places that hurt them. In some cases, that hurt them still. Their pain wounds you. Comes with that big heart, I'm afraid. It goes big or it goes home.

But I really suck at being a mom. I'm short-tempered and cross and, quite frankly, I really don't know what I'm doing. I think You might have goofed.

That's because you've forgotten to go home, dear one. And I don't goof. You don't suck. See this? You're where you need to be right now. I know how it ravages your soul that the ones you love don't see themselves for who they really are, but dear girl, neither do you. That makes the damage worse. Start here, with Me, and the burdens become easier. They are not yours to hold and carry. The weight is far too much for you. Why do you think you're constantly so weary? Let Me do the work. My shoulders are big enough. The sooner you rest in who you are in Me, loved for who you are, and your value in that, the more confidently you will display that to the daughters you love and model it for them.

You were called not because you were perfect, nor because you had mad skillz, nor because you were Superwoman. You were called because you open your heart and your arms and you love, because you didn't say no to opening your heart wider to more love. And when I asked for you to stretch wider, knowing what was to come, you said, "More love."

That is what I don't want you to forget. You were called because you know how to love.

Yes, I know all too well how opening wide for love can hurt. When it does, your Refuge is here. With Me.

I promise you, it is worth it all.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Kidnapping of Steve Stringbean

Moooooooons ago, PBS in my area ran a show called Square One Television, which had the
surprising effect of making math entertaining. I can still sing the song about tessellations, as well as "Fantastic Number Nine," which I occasionally inflict on my children during multiplication practice. But I digress. My favorite part was the Mathnet segment that always came at the very end of the show ("To Cogitate and To Solve!"), patterned after the old Dragnet series.

All of this is only important to you in that the five-episode run one of one week's Mathnet that dealt with solving the kidnapping of a famous musician with perfect pitch named Steve Stringbean, and the subsequent later delight my father had when I mixed up the names Steve Stringbean and his very-real-life famous-counterpart Bruce Springsteen, the obvious source of Stringbean's name. And that I wished to share this tidbit of memory with you, because it gave me the title for this post, for reasons which I trust are going to become glaringly obvious by the end.

So. Tonight, at the dinner table...

Me: Middle, I recognize that you are a hoolibarian [this is, in fact, her own word], but when you're at my table, you're a person, and you'll use manners. Do not bend your head down almost to your plate and shovel in your food.

Middle [impish grin, knowing she's been caught in a frequent Mother Does Manners infraction]: (hums)

Youngest [apparently confused]: Can we do this? [demonstrates the exact behavior I had called Middle out for, but a lone single bite, as opposed to Middle's usual repeated inhaling of bites]

Me: No! That's the same thing! You make me despair of teaching you proper manners.

Youngest: But it was only one bite.

Me: It's still not polite. [look around] You should be grateful I'm not being picky about having your elbows on the table. [All of us were guilty. I just don't care about elbows that much when they're not sprawling.]

Oldest: When we were at Southern Church Camp, if we got caught with our elbows on the table, we had to sing a romance song to someone!

Middle and Youngest reacted with appropriate disgust.

Oldest: Or you had to run around the shed outside six times, while everybody watched, doing something silly! I never got caught.

Youngest: At Northwestern Church Camp, we didn't have to do anything like that. [NCC is the only place the twins have stayed at camp overnight.]

Oldest [with a wicked grin]: Maybe I should suggest that for Northwestern Church Camp!

I think Youngest actually growled.

Oldest: Mom, have you heard of a song "Can't Hurry Love"?

Me: Yes, I've heard of it.

I rather like it, in fact. I like a lot of music from that era, and I'm particularly fond of The Supremes.

Middle: What about that song Daddy sang for ShaNaNa's wedding? You know, to that guy? Lenny?

Me [drolly]: Your cousin Leonard?

Middle: Yeah, him! "Can't Help Falling in Love." That song. Do you like that song?

Me: Yes, I like that song, too.

Are you wondering where all this is going? Don't worry; the payoff is coming. I was having to keep up with the way the conversation was shifting, so be happy I've slimmed it down here.

Middle: Momma, which song do you like better? "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis Parsley...

I sat there with a beatific smile and held my fork off to the side of my plate, still spearing a bite of spicy honey-glazed chicken.

Me: Elvis Parsley?

All three of the girls were giggling.

Middle: Presley! I guess I was thinking of VeggieTales or something, and so I said Elvis Parsn— Parsl— Parsley! Elvis Presley!

Dinner has been over for an hour, and I am still giggling over Elvis Parsley.

Who is probably a second cousin to Steve Stringbean, if we're honest.

Now, I never did answer Middle's question, which was also taken up by Oldest, as to whether I preferred the Elvis song or the Supremes', but they got so hooked on the Parsing of Presley that they never realized I didn't give them an answer.

But I'll tell you what I told Special Edition when I texted her about Parsley for dinner.

I like both songs. Which I prefer at any given time depends on my personal mood.

Bonus: I'll share my favorite cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love." It has a little special something for everyone.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Oh, the SHAME!

The shame of my parenting skills is great, y'all. (Special Edition is rubbing off on me here.)

Great, I tell you.

Just now, I was driving Oldest and Youngest home from the twins' bible quizzing meet today. (Middle, who quizzed out, was off having ice cream with her coach to celebrate.) For frame of reference, the current CD in the car's player is the soundtrack to Disney's Tarzan.

I could get into why I love this movie in countless ways, not the least of which is its over-arching theme of adoption proving that family is family no matter what, but none of that matters here. What matters is that we are listening to Phil Collins and NSYNC do their cover of "Trashin' the Camp" when this triggers something in Oldest's brain.

"Hey, Mom, have you ever heard of the Newsboys?"

I tell you, I did not just roll my eyes. I believe I actually nearly rolled my head, and I was driving. Have I heard of the Newsboys.

"Child, I have heard of the Newsboys. I remember the Newsboys before they were fronted by Michael Tait. I remember the Newsboys when they had Peter Furler. I remember the Newsboys when they were four guys hailing from Australia!"

Silence reigned.

I sighed. "I am SO OLD."

Clearly I have failed my children on a truly epic level.

"We were doing this game this morning in youth group," Oldest explained, "where it was Skillet or the Newsboys. And I didn't know who the Newsboys were."

"You do so know who the Newsboys are!" Good golly. I know she knows.

"No, I don't," Oldest countered.

Egad. "'God's not dead, he's surely alive'? That's Newsboys."

"Oh. Well, I just listen to the stuff; I don't pay attention to whose it is."

Of course.

Mom, have you ever heard of the Newsboys? Bother. "Your father once stage-crewed for the Newsboys!"

Okay, now this Oldest found impressive. "He did?"

"It was twenty-three years ago, almost, and it was just that one concert, the Newsboys and Audio Adrenaline and some solo dude whose name I can't remember. But he was stage crew for them."

I almost shouted, "I remember the Newsboys when Peter Furler had a special gold suit!" but I don't think she would've understood the significance. And I felt even more old.

And I wanted to call my father and tell him about this conversation, so we could both laugh at me being old.

As I sat down to type this, I remembered something. Years ago, when Michael Tait joined the Newsboys and they released their first album with him as front man, Oldest decided she adored him. In fact, she announced at home one day (recorded here in this blog, I think; if not, it is now) that she was going to marry Michael Tait.

I remember Tweeting it and tagging the Newsboys, just for kicks. "My four-year-old wants to marry Michael Tait." Or something like that.

Wouldn't you know it, but Duncan Phillips started following me on Twitter that afternoon.

He's Newsboys' drummer.


I'm still so old.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Jurassic Park & Sex Ed.

It really doesn't take much to tie these two subjects together, I promise. Really.

It all began this way...

I came home from work today exhausted from an overly-long shift, but needing to go pick up Hubby. Special Edition, who's down for the weekend, opted to come along.

Middle also asked if she could come, because she "wanted to talk to Daddy."

I was already feeling the burn of aches in both head and right ankle and could not imagine how this wasn't going to help, but I couldn't find a legit reason to say no. So off the three of us went. It was a fairly quiet car ride until Hubby actually got in the car, at which point Middle was full of news and tidbits and stories she was bursting at the seams to share.

Among them was that there is a young boy in her class who is autistic, who did not seem to grasp during a science-class discussion on Jurassic Park that getting eaten by velociraptors was not a fun thing to have happen. Our nephew Mickey is autistic, so it was a bit of a teachable moment regarding this other student—who Middle admitted is cute-like-a-kitten but not boyfriend-cute—and how he compares to her cousin, who she knows a little better.

Middle found herself perplexed about something, though. "I don't understand why I can't watch Jurassic Park."

I was driving still and trying to keep my eyeballs both inside my head and on the road. I remember my father's perceptions of the movie from twenty-some years ago, and it wasn't age-appropriate for a ten-year-old then.

Hubby explained that it was the violence and the gore and the scare factor.

Middle remained unconvinced. "I think it's just stupid. It can't be all that scary."

There was a pause, and then she asked about tree sap turning into amber. "Isn't that how they got the velociraptors?"

Yes, Hubby confirmed, in the movie, scientists extracted dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes and other biting bugs trapped in amber, and cloned the dinosaurs from that DNA.

Middle: Didn't they do that [cloning] with sheep, too?

Hubby: Yes.

Middle: Well, how'd they do it?

I was so glad I was driving and Hubby was having to answer this one.

Hubby: Well, you've learned about cells, right? And the structures inside them?

Middle recited several cell structures for plant cells.

Hubby: There's this stuff called DNA.

Middle: D-what?

Hubby: DNA. It's in your chromosomes. It's the pattern that tells your body how to make you.

Middle: Right.

Hubby: You need both—chromosomes and DNA—to come together to make a dinosaur.

Middle: But how do they get that to get the dinosaur?

Hubby: Well, you know how babies are made, right?

Middle: No.

Poor Hubby. He was banking on Middle at least knowing that it takes a mommy and a daddy whatever to make a baby.

Hubby: Well, the women...the girls...the females have eggs.

Middle: So we're chickens?

I slapped a hand over my mouth and just kept driving, just kept driving, just kept driving...

Hubby: No. [trying desperately not to chuckle] No. These are tiny, tiny eggs.

Middle: I have eggs inside me?

Hubby: Yes, you do. And inside those eggs are your chromosomes.

Middle: Special Edition, you look uncomfortable.

Special Edition: For many reasons.

Hubby: Males also have DNA and chromosomes inside them...

SE: [sighs]

Hubby: ...and you need the chromosomes from the mom and the chromosomes from the dad...

SE: [sighs]

Hubby: ...and you mix them together in order to get a baby.

Middle: And that's what they did to get the dinosaurs?

Hubby: Yes.

Middle: But how did they mix it together? Does he throw up in her mouth or something?

Hubby hooted with laughter. Special Edition could not contain herself and howled.

I sat in the driver's seat and knew I'd missed something important because they were both laughing so hard.

Me: Okay, what did she say? Because I missed it...

SE: [still howling] She asked if he throws up in her mouth...

Middle: Well, I thought maybe it's when they're kissing...

SE: Why am I always here for these conversations?

Hubby chuckled, clearly enjoying Special Edition's discomfort. Middle jumped right on that bandwagon, too.

Middle: So, how do they mix it?

Hubby: Well, you're 10 now. I suppose you should know. You know that boys and girls are different, right?

Middle: I know they have a this and we have a that

I kid you not; that's actually what she said.

Hubby: Did you know that this and that are designed to fit together?

Absolute silence reigned in the car for the next ten seconds, something that hadn't happened in the 28 minutes since we'd picked Hubby up.


Hubby: Maybe we should continue this conversation in the house.

Middle: Can we continue it in your room? And can Special Edition be there too? And do my sisters have to be there? 

As it turned out, Special Edition needed to get a prescription filled at the pharmacy, so we went to go do that while Hubby got to continue discussing velociraptor love.

While we sat and waited, I heard from him...

Middle: Boys have a penis and girls have a Virginia?

All the parenthood win here tonight, folks.

Sunday, October 8, 2017


Today's adventures in parenting:

  • Middle got a HUMONGOUS stuffed animal as a prize at church, who conveniently has a name similar to our oldest cat, thus resulting in a lot of confusion when said cat selectively chooses to hear through his ancient ears.
  • All three nearly out-ate me at lunch.
  • Oldest swallowed a decorative marble, which caused a state of minor emergency, until I called my mother and confirmed that this, too, shall pass. I advise a hefty application of Rule #2 here, but...
  • Dinner is a lather/rinse/repeat of lunch.
  • I sent the kids up to get ready for bed half an hour late, but that's okay, because there's no school tomorrow. I think.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dinner Jeopardy!

Tonight we did a backwards dinner. It's Hubby's birthday, you see, and he had worship team rehearsal this evening. And despite my prior planning, I did not have dinner ready on time. Or even close to it. Erego, so that Hubby could blow out his candles, have cake, and open presents before he needed to leave, we did that first, and then feasted on spicy honey-glazed chicken tenders, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and green beans after he left.

Not to worry. I made sure to save some for him.

I just wish I could have saved the dinner conversation for him, in which Middle admitted to a fourth-grade crush last year.

Middle: Mom, do you know know who Legolas Greenleaf is?

Me: I know who he is.

Middle: Is it Legolas Greenleaf, Prince of the Mirkwood or Prince of the Dirkwood?

Me (regretting my lack of committing full Tolkien titles to memory): I don't think it's that, but I really don't remember.

Middle: I think it's Prince of the Mirkwood. (pause) In fourth grade, I had a really big crush on Legolas Greenleaf.

I schooled my features so that I did not react at this little revelation. I simply kept on eating my chicken, and kept my amusement private that every mention of Legolas included both his first and last name, as if we wouldn't recognize him without his last name.
Still a heartthrob for the fifth-grade set.

Me: Well, you realize, it's not so much the character who is handsome. It's the actor portraying the character.

Middle: Whatever. He's HAWT.

I was really sad their father was missing this.

Middle: I kind of want to know what the actor looks like.

I don't dare say she pretty much already knows.

Me: Well, he doesn't have long blond hair.

Middle (aghast): Crap! That was the attractive part! (pause) I'll bet he doesn't have the pointy ears, either, does he?

Me (not at all sorry): Nope.

Middle: Crap!

For those of you playing along at home, I did confess to a Legolas crush of my own (I found that incarnation of Orlando Bloom to be far more attractive than his Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies), but I was far more in the Aragorn camp than anything else as a result of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Middle didn't ask, so I didn't tell. Heh.

How we then shifted conversation to The Dukes of Hazzard TV show from the 80s is still a bit of a mystery to me.

Middle: Hey, Momma. Do you remember Luke Duke? And what was the name of the other one—the blond?

Youngest: Who?!

Disgust your daughter when you can, ladies.
Middle: Luke Duke. From the old TV show, The Dukes of Hazzard. And the other one. The blond. Who was he?

Me: Bo.

Middle: Right.

She turned to Youngest.

Middle: Not Luke from Jessie.

Youngest: Ohhhh.

Middle: So, Momma, did you ever have a crush on Luke or Bo?

Me: I liked Luke.

Middle (disgusted): Really?

I just nodded.

Alex, I'll take Ways to Show You're Old for $500, thanks.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Precise Definition

Several weeks ago...

Middle: Mom, what does obstinate mean?

Hubby: Go look in the mirror.

Me: Stubborn and unmoving.

Middle grinned impishly and without apology.