Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memories of...

The hardest part of parenting for me is answering the ambiguous and abstract questions with the black and white concrete answers that children want. My favorite part of parenting is being taught by children the real importance of things that I make too complicated.

When we headed to the cemetery on Monday to pay respects to my grandpa and return to the place that I left my grandma just one year ago, I was faced by one question after another that I could not answer with black and white certainty.

"But what is war? Why do we have them?"
I come from a family that is very proud of its military history. I honor and respect each of the men for what they have and are still giving to our country. I understand the need for the military and the reality of the need (sometimes) for war. But the Artemis in me judges war as man's business. Not man as in the universal "mankind," but man as in the gender specific. Not because I think women should be excluded from the military, but because, let's face it, men start wars. And mothers, wives, and children pay the price. I'm not saying with any certainty that if women ruled the world it would be any different, but that is just theoretical. Women don't rule the world. Yes, there have been a few women who have started wars in history. very very few and very minor. Reality and history have only proven that men are behind wars. So, I let Chowder field this one.

"Are all of these soldiers in heaven?"
I'm hardly privy to St. Peter's big book, but I go ahead and wish them all in.

"Will they all come back on the last day?"
Again, my whole "Last Day" theology is a bit fuzzy and nebulous. So, I tell them that we are promised resurrection. Not fully knowing how I feel about that. (I HATE that.)

"So these are the good guys and they fought the bad guys?"
oh jeez.
Of course that's what we think, but there are families visiting cemeteries in Korea, Japan, Alabama, Iraq etc, who believe the exact same thing. That's the only way war can happen. Both sides have to believe that they are are the good guys, that they are righteous, justified and even backed by God. I refused to fall into this black and white trap here and know full well, even while I spoke, that my high-minded ambiguity was going right over their heads and probably boring them as well.

Luckily we reach section MM just in time. We got out to go looking for 1792. When we found it, Jellybean asked Chowder to read it. He did. First reading my grandfather's name, rank, service dates and awards, and then my grandmother's name. "Eleanor?!" Porkchop yelled in recognition. "That's like Baby Eleanor! Like our baby that is growing in your tummy!" Yes, I told him. That was Great-Grandma's name. The children stand around the stone a little longer all looking very satisfied with this. Then we walked back to the van.

As we drove through the cemetery, the children were awed by the number of graves and began speculating about the number of people buried there. Thousands, they determined. The Meatball, my very intense little fellow, was getting more and more upset as we drove.
"So many, Mommy."
"I miss them Mommy! I miss every one of them!"
Porkchop tells him, "You don't even know them."
"It doesn't matter. They are not here and I miss them!"
No ambiguity. No abstraction.
Just the simple concrete heart of the matter.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The key to sanity in parenting...

Take them outside! Children can be themselves and run around and you don't have to yell "NO!" a hundred times. Outside is happy kids and happy mommies. Many times I'll just spread out a blanket and lay down and read a book while having a snack. seriously. A big open field at the park is perfect. Add a little creek and you have the whole day set up. When the day starts to get too tense and every move the kids make is the wrong move and every sound they make is a whine, I know it's time to take them outside. Not to a playground, though playgrounds are great, just somewhere they can have a little freedom and explore the natural world. Bring a ball or books or a truck or a jar to put bugs in, some snacks, and no expectations and no directing the kids' play. I just need to give them the space to do their thing.

Today I took the kids to a pseudo-farm. But it's where the Anheuser-Bush clydesdales are bred. I was really amazed at how Ladybug ran up and climbed the fence and tried to give the horse a kiss. (I was right there. She wasn't in any danger.) Here's a few pics from our day.

Monday, May 19, 2008

It's a...

Well, since nothing in this pregnancy can go without drama, My ultrasound took no less than 2 hours with no less than 3 different doctors coming in and doing more scanning and more measurements and an Advanced Maternal Age specialist coming in to discuss genetic anomalies and my options and my having to sign a form that I was declining an amniocentesis. All of this was to tell me that everything looked blessedly good.

ridiculous. I'm only 36 freakin years old, people!

Lame Peek-In-Monday

Here's a lame Peek-In-Monday. Not a lot of energy today, Ladybug is up this morning at 4:45am, just as Chowder left for the Y. Today is our big u/s day. I'm still in disbelief that we have made it this far!

We'll have the tech write the gender on a piece of paper that I will be handing to my friend at Moondaysoul Treats who is making cupcakes for us. If the cupcakes are pink? Then, my hunch is right. We'll all find out after dinner when we open the box. I'll of course share that Peek-in tomorrow.

and yes...he slept through that. What can I say? Chowder has many gifts. One of them is napping.

Friday, May 16, 2008

My old man...

Fargo is now 12 1/2 years old. He has cognitive dysfunction syndrome (doggie Alzheimer's) and really is starting to drift away from us. It makes me so sad because we had to put down our other collie last spring. I wasn't expecting Fargo to slip so fast. We have tried the medication (gave him diarrhea) and he's on the prescription dog food now without much change. I'm hoping he continues to peacefully drift away and doesn't become to anxious or in pain. But, already he is getting grouchy with the kids and suddenly has begun chasing the cats and growling at them (not in very aggressive way, just a "get out of my way" way.) I don't want to have to put him down because he becomes aggressive. That's just sooooo not who he is. He has been the most docile, sweet, attentive and loving dog toward the kids. Never an aggressive bone in his body. I would hate to have this disease take that essence away.

For now, he wanders and paces the house in circles. He gets lost. I found him just standing in the bathroom facing in and he had no idea how to get back out. He just stood there wimpering. He sleeps all the time. I'm kind of hoping he just slips away in his sleep, so the kids can see him and understand that he is gone (unlike when we took Beaner in to be put down.) He came inside last night before I took my bath and when I came out of the bathroom he looked at me dazed and just peed on the floor.

I miss him already because so much of him is already gone...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The lowest of the low?

Can you look at the beauty of these and the detail and color that was put into each little sea slug, and tell me God doesn't take the same love and interest in us? Forget the lilies of the field, look to these lowly creatures at the bottom of the sea.

Complete photo series here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Meanest Thing...

Today while trying to get through another cold, dreary, rainy day, The Meatball was asking me to spell a couple of words for him while he wrote them out on his Magnadoodle. I apparently wasn't spelling them at the right speed because he became very frustrated and started yelling at me. So, I told him I was done and would write the words on a piece of paper for him to copy at his own pace. (sounds reasonable, right?) Well this pissed him straight off and he decided to take out his revenge using his Magnadoodle.

First was the classic word MOM with an X through it.

Then came the scoreboard- MOM:0 The Meatball: 1,000.

And then he just went too far. He drew a picture of me inside a bubble with snow falling all around me. He told me that I was in Winter and I would always BE in Winter and I would never be in Summer or sunshine. EVER!

of course I broke down crying like any rational, non-hormonal human being.

Monday, May 12, 2008


This has been by far the dreariest, coldest Spring I can remember in this part of the country. Thank God for the small doses of sunshine and warmth that have been handed out quite stingily. They seem so few and far between, that this is what happens...

today we may have 70 degrees and sunshine...I'll believe it when I see it.