Saturday, August 30, 2014

Flying


The summer, which despite the start of school will continue to linger for another couple of months, waxes hot- stifling in fact- and full of pool and ocean glory.


This is Aquaman's birthday weekend. His cousin A and Uncle J are visiting from Indiana to celebrate it. Last night the older 2 boys had a sleepover at Gramma's house and today we went to Chuck E Cheese, aka the Kiddie Casino. Aside from the usual drama, everyone had a good time.


Right now I am sipping hot chai tea, because for some reason I wanted it, while Greystoke takes a nap and the other 2, mercilessly, play trains without any major blowups.
I've had a headache for more than 24 hours now, I can't decide if it's dehydration, a weird sleep position, or allergies. Probably all of them. My throat is scratchy, and I've been itchy for a while. It's hot. I sleep in funny positions due to occasionally falling back asleep while holding Greystoke.

Somehow the tea seems to help.

This was Aquaman's first full week of school, and I really think it went well. The crying and anxiety have lessened to only complaining. He know the names of a few of the other children at school, and they know his, which is a start. He brought cupcakes to school on Friday and got to wear a birthday crown. His teacher made him feel special.

Teachers are special that way.

Greystoke had his first go-round to work, visiting clients in assisted living with me this Wednesday. He was a trooper, and a joy bringer. One woman told me "I look for something beautiful every day, and he is it today."

Another man said "I haven't seen one of these in a loong time." And thanked me for letting him talk to him.

Greystoke graced them all with his trademark wide mouthed grin.


I'm reading 1 Corinthians and Isaiah right now.
Although in 2 weeks I'll be returning to Leviticus for a Bible study I'll be joining. I'll be reading Leviticus twice in one year. I'm not sure what I'm thinking

But for now I am basking in some of my favorite books. Today, I read 2 of my favorite chapters. First, Isaiah 40:

"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall. But the word of the Lord stands forever."

I don't know why I love to read words like these. Maybe it's because I can always sense the delicacy of life, the constant temporary-ness (I know that's not a word, but I like it anyway). Maybe it's because I love the grass. I love the flowers. I feel most fully alive when I am outside in it, in the vastness and broadness of nature.

Mostly it's because there's such comfort in the knowledge that SOMETHING lasts forever. The beautiful things here in life so quickly fade, and I grasp at them, and there's something new to take their place. But I love to know that there is one beauty no finger of time can destroy.
The word of the Lord stands forever.

"He will not grow tired and weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength . They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."


I'm here in the prime of my life, and I'm relishing it, and enjoying it, and so far 3 kids is not as hard as I thought it would be (mainly because of baby jackpot). I'm mostly sleeping, though he's been having a growth spurt or a sleep regression so not quite as well as before. I'm only working 2 full days a week, and squeezing the rest of my work into about 6 hours in which I don't have to arrange childcare, which is awesome.
JT's competition season is over, and he's managed to get a few days off while his brother is here,

But still, I'm pretty tired.
And thinking about soaring on wings, well that sounds pretty good. It sounds like a ride at the fair, where you leave the rest of your life on the ground. Where you're weightless. And the wind's in your face.
Or like really fun surf, which I can barely remember.

But something that makes you feel young and free of responsibility.
Because while it's true that 3 kids and a husband and a job is a lot of responsibility-
It's not really my responsibility at all.
And I relish those eagles' wings.


"Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
1 Corinthians 15:58


There's soaring, and there's solid footing. On literal sand and figurative rock.
It's not being moved.
You can give yourself fully in your labor, and you can do it without any of the weight.
You can stand firm and still feel like you're flying. Weightless.

We're not permanent, and nothing here is. The oceans will get polluted, and the trees on the mountains will be ravaged with fire, and people we love will get sick and even die, and life here will march on with seemingly not a care to our desperate attempts to elude it.

But the word of the Lord will stand. Immovable and freeing.




It's the deepest need I have. Of intimate permanence. Of carefree depth and meaning.

Somehow, just writing this, just dwelling on it for a few more moments, and my headache has faded to the background. I've broken up a total of 6 arguments since I started, and finished my cup of tea,
Sweet little Greystoke is still sleeping. I just did a breath check, because sometimes I can't believe it. A couple of times a day I tear up at his sweet whole-body smile. What a gift.

There's a whole bucket of play-tools on the floor.

And I'm flying.


Friday, August 22, 2014

The Second First Day of Kindergarten

 In honor of Aquaman's first day of his 2nd year of Kindergarten, I decided to try to take all the same pictures that I took last year, so I could compare them.

Here is last year's blog, for reference:
http://mcvickerfamilyblog.blogspot.com/2013_08_01_archive.html

He has hardened from a 4 year old with innocent stars in his eyes to an almost 6 year old who is wise to the ways of school.
Despite his apparent lack of interest, this year he actually seems ready. He eagerly wrote his name on all of his school supplies, and it was actually pretty neat.
Several times over the summer, though I stopped the forced book reading because he was resisting it so much and I want him to actually like reading, he would actually request during story time to read the books to us. Several other times I caught him, behind a closed door as if it was some sort of transgression, reading a book to himself.


But he enjoyed the summer, where there was very little pressure. He struggles so much with perfectionism that doing any sort of work is a source of anxiety for him. What if he doesn't do it perfectly? He'd rather not try.
And then there are his social struggles. Last year was hard for him, and he enters this year even less socially confident than he was last year. He can hardly be blamed. He certainly isn't blessed genetically in this department. Both his father and I are introverts. When I was in Kindergarten, my teacher thought I should have my IQ tested, because I was so shy there MUST be something wrong.

Like me, he does best in very small and intimate groups of people, which makes the start of school, thrust into a room full of unknown children all the more daunting.
Yes, my husband is wearing a speedo. He just came from swim practice :)
But his biggest source of anxiety this year, was that he wouldn't do it right, somehow.
"All of the other kids will know what to do, and I won't." was the fear repeated over and over to me the restless night before he started.
There was no reasoning with him.


We prayed 3 times before he finally fell asleep. That he would have the wisdom to know what to do in each situation. That he would find one good friend. And mostly that he wouldn't be afraid, and would know that Jesus was with him all day, and that even if he did make mistakes, or didn't find a friend, he would have peace.

That night, before bed, I read "Let me hold you longer", and as always, I embarrassed myself by crying: "silly scattered images will represent your past. I keep on taking pictures, never quite sure of your lasts"
We followed it up with "It's time for school, stinky face." Which was definitely the right move.

"You know what, stinky face? I think you'll do just fine."

In the morning, before we left, we read one of his favorite Bible stories. Jesus teaching us not worry. I improvised a little: "do you think you need to worry that you won't know just what to do at school, or that no one will like you?"
"No. You are more important than birds. You are more important than flowers. The birds and flowers don't sit and worry about things, and God doesn't want His children to worry either. God loves to look after the birds and the flowers. And He loves to look after you too."
It was the first real smile I saw all morning.

To continue the first day of school tradition, I took the Dude to the park to swing after dropoff.
He's changed a lot in a year too.
He started preschool this week. He had 2 accidents, which is weird since he hasn't had an accident since before Greystoke was born.
But he had a good time too.
And he enjoyed the quietness of the first day having to only share me with Greystoke for 6 hours.
We ate raw broccoli and ranch dip and chicken with ketchup (2 things Aquaman is not a fan of) for lunch while Greystoke napped.
And he told me uninterrupted stories about anything and everything. Without anyone shouting "that doesn't even make SENSE!"
As lunch ended, he indicated that Aquaman could take his time coming home...
This year, Greystoke joined us on the park swings. Greystoke with his sweet little sucked on fingers and go-with-the-flow attitude. Last year he was barely the size of a sesame seed. Now look at him.


And it turns out, the second first day of kindergarten went just as well as last year's.
Aquaman mostly knew just what to do. He was bothered by the fact that his class turns out to be a tk1/kindergarten class, so he is not the oldest in his class after all. Hopefully it means he will be more challenged, which was the intent, and not just in a class full of behavior problems. He opened his own squeeze fruit in the cafeteria. He followed his last year's teacher around the playground, and she didn't send him away. He didn't make any friends yet, saying that everyone already seems to know each other already (the parents seem to too. How DO they? I don't know a soul!) But he did say there seem to be a lot of potential friends, "once I find out who listens to the teacher" (he's a bit of a goody goody that way ;)). I suggested he befriend the poor little boy who looked like he cried all day. He said "you mean the boy with the red eyes? He wants his MOM, not a friend!" Maybe so.

His only complaint is how difficult it is to sit still all day. He has the amazing self control to behave despite it, but it exhausts him emotionally. So today we plan to swim immediately after pickup, and we walked to school, in hopes it would wear him out. He pushed his baby brother proudly and happily the whole way.

When we got to school, he walked in without a backward glance.

You know what, stinky face? I think you'll do just fine.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Becoming

This is the last weekday of summer. I'm having trouble getting started.

JT and I have been up later than usual lately, drinking tea and trying to squeeze in all the Downton Abbey episodes during our free trial of Amazon instant streaming.

The Dude was up 3 times last night, worrying about spiders and other 3 year old problems. Greystoke was up twice to eat, which is normal for a 3 month old, but rare for him. He actually set an 11 hour-in-a-row sleep a couple nights ago. The Dude was wide awake by 6 am, asking for corn for breakfast.He settled for a bagel with cream cheese, but waited until I was done preparing it to tell me, in an ear splitting scream, that he doesn't like cream cheese anymore.

Things are winding down and speeding up all at the same time. I've pretty much given up on more than just the bare minimum of housework for this week.The refrigerator is clean for grocery day, and most of the laundry is done, that will have to be enough.

Yesterday The Dude went to meet his preschool teacher and see his classroom. He was pleased. I think Monday dropoff will still be interesting, but hopefully not quite as dramatic now that he is more familiar with it.

 also think he is going to love it after the adjustment period. And I definitely think he needs it.

Today is the Elementary school meet and greet. Aquaman has respectfully asked to return to preschool instead of kindergarten. Hopefully seeing his classroom and teacher will get him excited about the possibilities of a new year. He did admit that he is looking forward to the last part of the day, when there is time for free play with the other kids.

Both boys are ready for some time apart, and though it will be a new kind of a busy season, I am looking forward to it.

A few more moments with the happy little guy, and a little less bickering between the other 2. Aquaman and The Dude are the best of friends, but their fighting can be wearying. We all need a little room to grow on our own, and the closeness of siblings, in its very nature, can be stunting.

 2 strong willed boys jockeying for position all day can be exhausting. I'm looking forward to watching them come back together in the afternoons and the different dynamic they will have after some time apart.

Aquaman is anxious, and seems almost more shy than last year, and it's hard not to be a little anxious for him. But I definitely think being with younger children is going to give him more of a social edge this year.

I think what is difficult for Aquaman is that he is not just going to assimilate and be who people want him to be. He will not pretend to like something just because everyone else does, and he has very strong opinions about what he likes and doesn't. But he is also anxious about expressing what he DOES like for fear of rejection. It's a very strange blend of uber confidence and self consciousness.

His complexity astounds me, and fascinates me.

It is one of the most amazing things about motherhood, watching your children...become.

Every time I start to label one of them as this way, the next day they show me a whole new side to who they are. They grow, and mature, and change.

Yesterday, Aquaman astounded me, after 3 years of loving the color purple, by announcing that he's tired of purple, and it has moved to 2nd favorite.

Orange is the new purple, it seems.

Aquaman is only weeks away from turning 6.
I was 6 years old when God fully revealed Himself to me for the first time. 6 years old when He saved me and changed me.

I don't know if God will call Aquaman at age 6. Don't know how he'll respond if God does call . But I'm not interested in making Aquaman like me. Aquaman has his own path to follow. A path with pain and growth and opportunity.

And watching him in the ocean a week or so ago, I had a sudden revelation of peace about that.

You see, Aquaman's father and I were/are both surfers (I say were because I haven't surfed much since he was born. It's just hard to find the time. But it's still in my heart, and I will return to it). We fell in love surfing. Our honeymoon was a surf trip to El Salvador. Our baby shower invitation for Aquaman had a 1 yr old on it holding a surfboard. I still have it in my glove compartment, for some reason

But Aquaman has said, since he was young enough to talk, that he would never surf.
He didn't like the salt water in his eyes, or the unpredictability of the ocean, or getting knocked down by the waves.
And we have been ok with that, because Aquaman has to find his own way.

But we still love the ocean.
So since he was born, its been his 2nd home. He's spent hours and hours shoveling the sand. He's spent hours and hours studying the ocean. Jumping its waves.
Aquaman cannot be forced into anything, and I respect that about him. So for years he stayed on the shore. We didn't shove him on a surfboard and make him be who we wanted him to be. We just brought him to the beach.

And this summer, boogie board in hand, I've watched him turn into a surfer.

And I've marveled as I've watched. Because he's had very little formal teaching by us. Just exposure. And from this exposure, the most important thing of all has happened. He has fallen in love with it. Not for what the ocean is to me or JT. But for what it is to him.

His body seems to automatically know what to do on the board. He paddles out now, instead of walking his board. He catches the waves in just the right spot instead of waiting for the white water.
He comes out of the water with the biggest grin on his face.

In the end, it doesn't matter if he decides to be come a surfer. I'd love to share something I love with him, but ultimately who cares? So it's easier to be laid back about that. It matters infinitely and eternally that He chooses to walk with the Lord. And that makes it all the harder and more important to take it out of our hands and put it in the hands of God.

But ultimately the choice of whether to accept or choose the gift of God's grace is Aquaman's, and not mine.
I respect that. And I'm not very worried about it either.

Because he couldn't resist the beauty of the ocean. Couldn't stay away.
He learned it quietly when I barely noticed. He took it in deeply when I thought he wasn't paying attention.

And Grace is infinitely more beautiful, even than the ocean

Friday, August 8, 2014

Praise

Another week of summer is gone. We've gone bowling, made a sand volcanoes, been to the zoo, made cookies, and somehow, for some reason, we even painted.
We've played in sand slime, had a picnic on our picnic blanket. The boys embarrassed me at the library by screaming. Again.
I've made it to 10 when I counted to 10 about 10 times. I've followed through immediately with a consequence every time. (I think)
I have smiled when I was sad, and mad, and cried when I was gloriously happy.
I've just finished up reading Psalms, and I've found great comfort in meeting God there.
Life is sweet today, almost too sweet. And with guarded hope I have regarded it. Contemplated it. Prayed through it. Wondered where I was going wrong.
Is it strange that at times, I have secretly longed for bigger trials than these? Remembering the depth of comfort I have found in the arms of my Savior. Perhaps fearing that, in my comfort, I must be doing something wrong.


During my darkest days I have pored over the Psalms. I have read about "deep calling to deep", and knew its sorrows. Felt the depth of it. 

But this week, I have found a new kind of comfort in those Psalms.
It's called Praise.
Not that I haven't known praise in my 27 years as a follower of Christ. But I knew it differently, more intimately this week.
I
I knew it as I took in the quiet of an early morning dog walk. The tropical clouds swirling overhead as the sun rose. All of my babies still warm in their beds. Reminiscing on a moment I had just left...a baby breathing softly on my chest,the smallest drop of milk dripping from the corner of his mouth. 
And I knew it as I read one of my favorite Psalms this week, Psalm 103.
" Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits--who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.  He made known his ways to Moses, his  deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;  he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;  as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;  the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.  But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children-- with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. 
God has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.  Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, O my soul.

This is a time for praise.
"The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower.  For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business." James 1:9-11It can be easy to think of myself as a brother in humble circumstances sometimes.
But right now, I am the rich man.
I am the man glorying in my humble position. Because soon it will fade. It's grass. Gloriously beautiful and fragrant grass...but grass all the same. It will fade.
But God doesn't change. He never has, and He never will. 
He's there in the swirling sea, when deep calls to deep
And he's here in the summer sunshine. It will fade. But for now, I am so enjoying the warmth of it.