Friday, December 21, 2007
In these past few days, Elias seems to have grasped that Christmas is about going on an airplane. He is most excited about going on an airplane with Mommy, Daddy, Bibi, and Zora. (Zora is his new imaginary friend who takes a shower and brushes her teeth upstairs.) He also seems to know that presents go with Christmas. Although, he also thinks presents come from September through January as he has been receiving them since his birthday and through Adelaide's arrival. Tonight I wanted to give him a more thorough tutorial on Christmas so I began to retell the nativity story. When I was finishedI asked him, "So, Elias whose birthday do we celebrate on Christmas?" He blithely replied, "Daddy's!" Wow, Adam was beaming--that's my boy. I then moved on to the wisemen and asked, "What did the wisemen bring to Jesus?" Eli said, "Wisemen sing Happy Birthday." So, he seems to have gotten some of the story confused, but you know we Episcopalians don't take all the Bible stuff literally. Right?!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I call it the sixth hour stretch..Yes, that time of day when we have brought in the backpacks from the car, the mail, and every other item of the day which has landed on the dining room table, is still sitting there. Today was unusual; we had Christmas packages, cards, and the inevitable piling up of winter coats and burp cloths. As I gazed on the piles on the table I wondered how long it would take me to clean the mess up after I got the kiddos down for their naps. (Mind you, I don't have to clean up midday, it is just a compulsion I have.)I glanced at my watch and said go. I gathered the brown bag for all the paper waste--envelopes, junk mail, catalogs, ribbons. I then broke down the corrugated boxes. (Adam will be very proud when he comes home. I usually fling them down the stairs into the basement.) I took all the Christmas cards and put them in our Christmas card bowl and tore out return addresses that we needed to save. I then took the contents of the lovely packages and either put them on the stairs to go up for Adam and me or by the appropriate child's door to be put away when they wake up. Finally, I hung up the coats and checked my watch. Oh yes, I also put away the sharp knife I used to open the packages. ONLY 13 MINUTES WITHOUT KIDS...I can't imagine the time with kids. So, that is why I clean up half way through the day. I can assure you it will take less than 13 minutes to undo the order when the Hurricane gets up. And so it goes with the repetitive nature of housework and raising children.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I was trying to finish my book for bookclub this Friday and glanced over at the pile of books by my bedside. I laughed; it gave me a hint of the myriad aspects of my life right now.
My book club just read, Snow, which is a good story about a small city in Turkey dealing with clashes between secularism and political Islam. I made it half way through this dense read for bookclub, which met on Friday night. Another book on my table is A Wrinkle in Time. Madeline L'Lengle, who recently died, was one of my favorite authors when I was a child. I loved her Austin Family Series books. Our bookclub read A Wrinkle in Time as a tribute to her. I still have a few chapters to go because we were reading this when Adelaide was born. My most valuable book of the pile is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. This has been our Bible during childrearing and I can't recommend it enough. I had been consulting this book recently to remind myself of newborn sleep habits as well as to consult how to deal with a two year old who is boycotting naps. Next on my pile, Simply Christian by NT Wright. This book was touted as a Christian essential up with C.S Lewis's books, but I have not found it all that engaging. I think Wright is better as an academic writer writing tomes and not as someone taking a stab at a short, concise book on the whole idea of Christianity. Positive Discipline...Need I say more. Another book made for dealing with active and energetic two year-olds. The next book on my pile is In the Midst of Chaos--Parenting as a Spiritual Discipline. I'm reading this book for my stay-at-home clergy bookclub. That is a Lutheran pastor and an Episcopal Priest (me) who get together to discuss theological books. I love the book, but find it hard to find time to read about parenting and reflect on it spiritually when my time is so limited. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is next. I already read it. I devoured it right after Addie was born when I was breastfeeding non-stop. It is about Chinese women in the mid 19th century and it deals with issues like footbinding and a secret language that only women used. Finally, my last book is the most humorous. Adam bought it for me while I was in the hospital. I think it was meant to be a present...It is the Oxford Dictionary Companion to the Book of Common Prayer. Just what every woman dreams of when she comes home from the hospital. I have yet to read it!
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Elias likes to inform me that Daddy is at work. "Daddy went to work." "Yes, Daddy's at work", I usually respond. However, one day I thought to ask him what that means. I asked, "Elias what does Daddy do at work?" He responded, "Drive a bulldozer." Wow, that was pretty far from what I had expected. So, I asked him later that day what Daddy did at work. He changed his answer, "Drinks wine!" Well, Adam sure has a great job. Just tools around on a bulldozer all day with a glass of Pinot Grigio on his hand. Watch out Public Works Department.
Elias had a doozy of a morning. Consequently, we did, too. I think it is all related to exhaustion. Unfortunately, Elias is boycotting napping for about two days in a row each week. One day of no naps equals hyperactivity and silliness. Two days of no naps equals moodiness and screaming. The following morning, which was today, means our child has officially changed from a homo sapien to a vulture. (Have any of you read Zagazoo? Great children's book from England, that describes this process.) In any event, with Elias screaming and simultaneously trying to eat a banana and then strapping Adelaide into her carseat, we had two children in tears on the way to church. Why in the heck should we go?
Lots of reasons and none of them are fairly noble and spiritual. The first reason is to get out of the house on a 19 degrees snow covered day in Wisconsin. The second is to actually leave Elias somewhere where we are NOT. He goes to the nursery and loves the toys there while we take part in the ministry of the Word. The third reason is to be in community with other people whom we see week after week. The fourth reason is really that it is a part of our habitus.
We know that one of the Ten Commandments is to honor the Sabbath. In this day and age, that is so hard to do. The orthodox Jews know how to do it--no driving, cooking, etc. We, modern American Christians, have to start observing the Sabbath by just getting to church. Plain and simple, right? And, this is the most active way that we can demonstrate that we are trying to follow God's commands for us. After all, not bearing false witness is a little hard to prove. Certainly, not committing adultery is a pretty clear commandment, but that one doesn't challenge me like some of the other commandments. So, is it our habit to bring our kids to church. So, that one day they will know that it is a part of their life to be in church. And, they of course, will have their reasons to want (or not) to go to church. Maybe they'll like the donut holes, or the bright, shiny crosses, or seeing their friends. The reasons we get to church are myriad and we don't have to be too tough on ourselves for why we are going. God uses all kinds of grace to get us there. But, I imagine it is God's hope that once we are there we will pause and worship the Creator of all goodness and that we will also remember the holiness of God. We come to church by the grace of God and because God commands we honor the Sabbath. Some days we get a glimpse of grace in return. Other days we spend much of the liturgy soothing an infant and stuffing goldfish into the mouth of a toddler. But, that's my point. It's not about a giving and a getting. It is about a habit of obedience to God. So, we will continue to drag screaming kids to church and we're darn grateful for the few minutes of peace in the liturgy before Elias joins us again!
Monday, December 3, 2007
Well, I never put much stock in the Deuteronomic code, but this picture says it all. Yes, Elias disappeared from my sight for about ten minutes. I then heard a thud and a verse of Little Town of Bethlehem playing over and over. I plopped Addie in her carseat and rushed to the living room only to see what I had thought happened. Yes, Elias had knocked over the tree. The good news is that after I changed Eli's full diaper, which might have been the reason he went to the corner by the tree, and put him down for a nap, finished feeding Adelaide, changed her diaper and put her down for a nap, I had a moment to go over and prop up the tree. I was successful. In the meantime, we have been observing Advent in a new way. Elias makes lattes with the candles and adds other accoutrement to the wreath for fun!
Sunday, December 2, 2007
SHHHH! Yes, we not only went out and got our tree, but it is trimmed and sitting pretty smack dab in our living room. I must admit this is the first time I have ever had a tree up before Advent I, which started today. The difficulty for us is that we are always traveling on Christmas. So, if we wait until it is liturgically appropriate we may not get our tree up at all! However, I did get out the Advent wreath and the candles, which we will start to use tonight. Each Sunday of Advent we always light the candles and pray the collect for that whole week. We try do the same for all the nights in Advent as well. Adam rotates our few Advent CD's and we do try and observe Advent in the home. Luckily, the church is still the last vestige of a Christmas free space until the actual night of the Nativity. Then the wreaths come out and the greens and all of the works! And, it is splendid that way.