Why blog? I don't even have a facebook account...it feels like it makes life so public. But then--blogging is kind of like a diary, isn't it? It makes me feel a little like Doogie Houser at the end of the day--collecting my thoughts and putting them down. I don't want to blog because I want my life to be public (though I don't mind wearing my heart on my sleeve, most of the time) or because I'm a narcissist, but because these days of our young family are so precious I don't want to lose them to a faulty memory. This time, this stage, these moments truly are 'a time to keep', and blogging is simply the most convenient way to keep them and share them.

I really didn't think I'd ever start a blog...but now that Mac has stopped calling firetrucks "fire knuckles" (he now calls them firetrucks, and I'm so sad!), I realize I'll forget that he ever did that if I don't write it down. So, the blog begins. Welcome.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Some Funny Mac-isms

Mac got a toy fire truck from one of my aunt Lynns (I have 2). It looks something like this:
He was SO excited when he unwrapped it. He loves firetrucks and always alerts us when he hears a siren in the distance (sirens are never police cars, sometimes ambulances, but usually firetrucks--according to Mac).

The new toy firetruck has a button...so Mac promptly pushed it...and then erupted the loudest, most realistic firetruck siren sound you can imagine. (Meanwhile, I am cringing, imagining my life filled with this siren for the next 3 months.)

But apparently Mac was cringing too--he looked at me and informed me that it was loud (pronounced "L-oww-d"). And he has not pushed the button since. He still adores the truck, but each time he picks it up to play, he looks at me and in a very matter-of-fact voice declares, "It's l-oww-d."

Another cute moment today--in an effort to shorten the effects of this cold, I gave Mac his first vitamin. I gave it to him and told him to eat it. He gobbled it up with a smile--loving it. After eating it, he looked at me and in his sweetest little toddler voice asked, "Mama, was that in m' m-oww-ff?" (translation: Mama, what's that in my mouth?). Oh, such sweetness.

Here's another cutie-pie moment: Mac got a really cool backpack from his aunt Meg and uncle Stephen for Christmas (btw--he thinks uncle Stephen hung the moon). It's so sweet--I actually got teary eyed last night when he tried it on, imagining his cute little pudgy tummy toddling off to his first day of school one day. He wanted to put it on again tonight, and proceeded to admire it in the full-length mirror. There he was, in his footed pajamas, hamming it up in the mirror, admiring his new backpack. He kept turning and posing, checking it out from all angles. He was so happy. It was seriously adorable.

I have been getting a kick recently out of Mac's response to the question: Do you have a dirty diaper? If he does, he says yes...but if he doesn't, he looks at me in all seriousness and says with his big blue eyes, "It's gas." Too funny.

2 more amusing Mac stories:

Mac loves chocolate-covered raisins and hates getting his ears cleaned. Though I usually object to parental bribery, what's the harm in taking advantage of the benefits every once in awhile? So, he gets a chocolate-covered raisin if he lets me clean his ears (they get yucky in a hurry...is this true of all toddler boys??). His new ploy: coming into the bathroom when I'm putting on my makeup or drying my hair, and saying with a coy grin, "Mama, clean ear! Get chocolate?" Who says very young children don't understand rewards and consequences? (I don't give in to this ploy unless his ears are actually dirty...but like I said--they very often are.)

On Christmas night, 39 of my aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings gathered at my Grandmother's house (these are the descendants--and their spouses--of my grandparents...a lot of people and not everyone was able to come!). Mac has not seen many of these people since he was 2 months old--2 Christmases ago. But he had no trouble making himself right at home, running around, talking to anyone who would listen. He doesn't see "Gamie" (his great grandmother) often, yet he went right up to her and gave her a hug when we arrived. One of my relatives made the observation--"Wow! He's not shy at all!" Nope. He's not.

So here are some funny Mac moments from Christmas week. He keeps us laughing, when he's not making me want to pull my hair out!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hopes and Fears

My favorite line from a Christmas carol--this year, at least--is from "O Little Town of Bethlehem":
"The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight."

I know this is not inspired scripture--but it's a scriptural truth. What a precious thought...all my hopes...all my fears...all of EVERYONE'S hopes and fears...every hope and fear for all of time--met in Christ becoming man.

Conversation at one of our family-gathering Christmas meals turned to the recent death of actress Brittany Murphy (in her early 30s). Someone speculated that her death may have been caused by prescription drugs that were found in her home, and the conversation turned to how celebrities seem to achieve all they've hoped and dreamed--yet still turn to substance abuse and other vices to fill the emptiness that still gnaws at the center of their hearts.

It struck me that this is not only true of celebrities. I have all I've hoped for and dreamed about--an amazing husband who I am more in love with today than ever; healthy babies; a cozy house in a neighborhood I love; wonderful (truly wonderful) family and friends...THIS is the life that I've wanted for years. This is exactly where I wanted to be at this point in my life. I am blessed beyond measure.

And yet.

If I made it here--to all I've wanted for years--and didn't know the Lord...I would feel the same: an emptiness, gnawing, a feeling of having been deceived by our culture that happiness is within reach. "I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind." (Ecclesiastes 1). I DO feel that way when I drift from him, which sadly happens so easily.

This cruel world breeds fear and jealousy. I find myself looking at others who seems to have everything and wish for it too, without realizing that their smiles are often masks for pain.

But this little promise, this little reminder breaks through: "The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight." Because in the end, all my hopes and fears are ultimately--if I am honest with myself--a need for the Lord: his comfort, his life, his redemption, his depth. I think happiness is somewhat flimsy, definitely fleeting. But contentment and joy can be strong, lasting, and real. Joy to the world!

PS--I don't think it's Biblical that Jesus had some sort of internal light shining from him like he is pictured above. That would, in fact, be sort of creepy. But I do like the painting.

PPS--I began this post in a somewhat euphoric Christmas eve holiday mood. Now I've returned to edit it after a few days of cooking, feasting, sugar-highs, piles of wrapping paper and empty boxes, remembering what gifts to take where (not to mention bringing extra diapers, pacis, spare outfits {just-in-case}, the ever-important camera, whatever food I've promised to contribute, and the dog--and remembering to bring the poor oft-forgotten pup home again), late nights in the car singing the ABC's to Mac way past his bedtime over Arden's screaming, insane amounts of new toys--some with 100,000 parts, trying to find cute outfits that fit my 9 week postpartum nursing self (while also trying to dress my kiddos in their holiday best and staying on top of the beast that is laundry), doing my best to make sure Mac behaves and Arden is fed, rested and clean during multiple extended family-gatherings, trying to keep my children from catching their cousin Samuel's cold (which didn't work, by the way--so now we're on the road to another ear infection I bet), all while trying to keep the true meaning of Christmas in perspective...

...on some level, my HOPE is that I will have a somewhat clean and organized house soon...my FEAR is that I won't!!!! It's as simple as that!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Arden Lately

Well, I post a lot about Mac because he's such a ham and so entertaining lately. But here's the buzz on Arden...

She's been sleeping through the night (midnight to 8 or later) for about 2 weeks. Merry Christmas baby!

She's a big flirt and so social! Sometimes she'd rather smile and tilt her head--baby flirting!--than eat. (Mac was NEVER like this if food was involved.)

My sweet Arden is pretty chill. She can put herself to sleep on her own in the crib if she's not overtired. She can calm herself down sucking on her fists if I'm a little late feeding her (note--I said she CAN. That doesn't mean she always DOES. We do live in reality over here.)

She HATES it when I put a hat on her when she's already in the carseat. It's not the hat she minds--there's no problem when I put a hat on her at other times--it's just the tilting her head forward. Hates that.

This little sunshine is as tall as her brother was at 8 weeks (24 inches) but weighs 2 pounds less. (She weighs 12lbs 10 oz; Mac weighed 15lbs.) Tall and skinny.

I have learned never to change her diaper before she eats...because she starts nursing...and relaxes...and THEN it's time for a diaper change. Maybe a couple of diaper changes, in fact. (Arden, if you go back and read this when you're 15, please remember that all babies--er--go. Just the way it is. Nothing to be embarrassed about.)

So that's our Arden. Sweet little smiler.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Or Something"

As Mac becomes more proficient at talking, he's picking up on phrases that just crack me up. The latest is "or something". He just tags this on the end--with a mumble--of various sentences, and it's hilarious:

"I eat a sandwich...or something..."
"He fall down...or something..."
"Go this way...or something..." (Speaking of which, Mac LOVES to tell me which way he wants me to go.)

I suppose I must say "or something" a lot? I hadn't noticed. I should pay better attention--apparently he is!

Along the same lines, a dear friend's daughter--who is Mac's age--looked at her the other day and said, "By the way Mom, I have a dirty diaper." By the way??!? So funny.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Great (like, ridiculously great) Is Thy Faithfulness

I've been reminded of the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father in 2 powerful but quite different ways this week--one serious, one lighthearted--both vivid.

The first, the serious one, I will not describe here because it involves the health of a loved one...and I don't think it's my business to give details about that on the world-wide-web.

But, the second, the lighthearted one...well, it's just ridiculous (in a good way), and this is the perfect place to share it.

Yesterday, Mac was napping and Arden had just finished eating...Brad was home...all these factors add up to one glorious reality: NO ONE NEEDS ME RIGHT NOW. I looked at Brad, asked if he could spare me for an hour (well, of course he could), and I skipped out the door to do a little Christmas shopping.

Who in their right mind goes out in the middle of the afternoon the Saturday before Christmas with a long and very specific gift list? Me. That's who.

So, I prayed. It may seem like a pithy thing to pray for, but I asked the Lord to provide what I needed in this tiny window of time. I asked the Lord to keep me from stressing about it. I asked the Lord to help me find things quickly and for a good price. If we, who are human, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more does our Father in heaven give good things to those who ask?

I pulled into the first store--hoping, but not sure, they would have what I needed. I got the absolutely closest parking space--the rest of the parking lot was packed. Ridiculous. I dashed inside. Prayed that they would have it (can't share what it is because the recipient may read this). Prayed that it would be the right kind. Prayed that it would be under a certain price.

After a few moments of looking, I found exactly what I was trying to find. There was only ONE, and it was precisely the right kind. One dollar under my budgeted amount. Wow. Ridiculous.

When I went to pay....it rang up HALF PRICE. Amazing. Ridiculous.

Well, I thought it would take me the whole hour outing to find this one thing. But only 15 minutes had passed. So, I thought I'd swing by Belk on my way home, see if they had something cute Mac could wear for Christmas. I was envisioning a red cable-knit sweater vest. How sweet would that be?!?

It's always a bad idea to envision something that specific apparel-wise. You'll never find it.

But...I got to Belk. Scored another awesome parking spot. Dashed into the children's section. The FIRST thing I saw is a red cable-knit sweater vest in exactly--EXACTLY!--Mac's size. On a table marked 50% off. And they only had one left. For real.

This is ridiculous. But the story doesn't end there.

I purchased the sweet little sweater vest (which he tried on today, by the way, and he looked soooooo cute. I could eat that kid up!), jumped in the car, called Brad. He says things are cool at home...so I have time to run to Target to get Mac's gifts. (At this point, I've only been gone 30 minutes--insane! The Saturday before Christmas and in 30 minutes I've bought 2 things, exactly what I was looking for?? Ridiculous!!!)

So, I ran to Target. Found a perfect shirt on clearance to wear under the sweater-vest. Found a book and a dump truck for Mac. Took my loot to the front...

Well, the dream had to end somewhere, right? There must have been 200 people waiting in lines at the front of the store (I am not exaggerating, it was seriously crazy in there). But I was cool with it. After all, I'd had a good run. I picked a line. I was last. There were about 15 people ahead of me. Oh well.

Then...I am not lying...a little red elf (well--that's an exaggeration--he was just a Target employee) came up to me and said, "Come with me, ma'am." For real?!?!? I followed him to customer service, they checked me out. I was out of Target in 20 minutes. REEE-DIC--U-LOUS. In a good way.

It would be easy to chalk this up to good luck or happenstance. But it's not. I prayed for help. The Lord sent help. I know the Lord is not a heavenly Santa Clause just waiting to wave his magic wand (yes, I realize that's a fairy godmother, but how else to put it?)--and sometimes he answers our prayers by saying "no" for a reason; but I also know he delights to provide and he is able. HE. IS. ABLE.

I know my shopping trip is ultimately very trivial. I know the Lord didn't answer my prayers only to help me out--he answered me to remind me of his faithfulness and caring as my Father in heaven. To demonstrate his power over ALL things. To remind me that his caring hand is on me, on my family.

This, at the end of a week that has been stressful for other reasons (the serious incident I mentioned at first), the Lord reminded me that he is orchestrating all the details of our lives. It's ridiculous. In a good way.

Recent Mischeif

Mac can now open the pantry doors. I should child-proof that, really. I'm learning that lesson daily.
Who needs toys when there are packing peanuts?
The endless delights of the kitchen sink...
...and playdough. Mac always requests for us to make "M"s and mushrooms. Random.
Yes, that's a drum on top of his head.
Mac LOVES spatulas. Carries them around the house. Oh, that's cinnamon he sprinkled over the onion I just cut. Mac loves cinnamon and if it's within reach will add it to any food. (Yes, the knife I'd just used to cut the onion was safely out of reach.)
He would eat oranges all day long if I let him.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Conversations with Mac

Mac only answers about 70% of non-yes-or-no questions. Here's how it goes:

Me: Mac, what did we do today?
Mac: Do.
Me: What did we do?
Mac: Do.
Me: Where did we go?
Mac: Go.
Me: Did we go to the store?
Mac: Ride truck store! (Reference to riding the truck cart at the grocery store.)
Me: What did we buy at the store?
Mac: Buy.
Me: Yes, that's right we bought something. What did we buy?
Mac: Buy.
Me: Did we buy bananas?
Mac: Bananas and apples!

He also answers "yes ma'am", "yup", or "uh-huh" to all yes-or-no questions. (He never answers "no" to anything.) So, if I'm trying to figure out if he's done something he shouldn't have done...I ask and he always answers yes.

Me: Mac, did you eat play dough?
Mac: Uh-huh.
Me: Mac, did you make baby Arden cry?
Mac: Yup.
Me: Mac, did you throw the ball in the house?
Mac: Yes Ma'am.

So this helps nothing. It's a brilliant strategy if you think about it. Always say yes...mom doesn't know when to believe you...but can't accuse you of denying anything.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jesus Was a White Man and Mary Is a Single Mom

Tonight at supper:
Mac: (pitching a fit because he has to eat some of his other food before he can have more sweet potato) Waa! Waa! Waa!
Brad: (Singing) Surely he taught us to love one another! His name is ...? (An attempt to distract and/or cheer Mac, Brad sings the second verse of O Holy Night but is not sure of the words. Who knows why.) How's it go?
Mac: Waa! Waa! Waa!
Kelley: Um...maybe his name is peace?
Mac: Waa! Waa! Waa!
Brad: (Singing) Surely he taught us to love one another! His name is peace and his gospel is light!
Mac: Waa! Waa! Waa!
Kelley: Did you say he is white?
Mac: Waa! Waa! Waa!
Brad: No, I said his gospel is light. But Jesus was a white man. (Sarcasm! We think it's funny when we see pictures of a blue eyed Jesus...because, hello--he's JEWISH!)
(Brad and Kelley don't notice--Mac is suddenly listening intently.)
Kelley: We've got to be careful--Mac's going to go to church and tell his Sunday School teacher that Jesus was a white man.
Mac: Jesus was a white man!
Brad and Kelley: Hahahahahahahahaha!
Mac: (realizing that he's funny and wanting to make us laugh) Jesus was a white man! Jesus was a white man! Jesus was a white man!
Fortunately, this actually sounded more like, "She-us-what-uh-et-mun." So, we're safe for now. Only mom and dad actually know what he's saying.
In other news, Jospeh is missing from our nativity scene, so Mary is currently a single mom. (Ironically, our baby Jesus IS white. But so far Mac hasn't noticed.)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chic-fil-a Playground: An Era Begins

So fast food restaurant playgrounds kind of freak me out. They seem germ infested and somehow cheap. But if you think about it, they're no more germ infested than a neighborhood park or the church nursery. And it doesn't seem like a battle worth fighting--keeping Mac away from something so obviously fun and cool.

We ate at Chic-fil-a last night after getting our Christmas tree. We made the mistake of sitting near the playground. Mac ate his kid's meal, and then his attention wandered to the colorful, enticing play area. We noticed him staring at it, riveted. Then, a few minutes later, he quietly whispered, "People in there." Yes, Mac, there are people in there...

After awhile (and a few more sips of milk), we hear again--a tiny awed whisper--"People in there." Accompanied with a point.

A few minutes later, there's another whisper, "May I be 'scused?" (We've taught him to ask to be excused since he's been sitting in a big-boy chair.) We said yes. He got down, took a few steps, and looked more closely at the monstrosity. Came back to the table and whispered again, "May I be 'scused?" (Translation: Can I go in there? Will you come with me?)

Oh...I wanted so badly to say no! You'll catch the swine flu, Maccers. You'll get hand-foot-mouth disease. You'll get athletes foot. But of course a two-year-old cannot process these reasons. And I know that he's in as much danger in the church nursery as he is at Chic-fil-a or the grocery shopping cart. So...Brad went with him...they took off his shoes (required for the indoor playground)...and Mac just stood at the bottom of this huge jungle gym...and stared up.

Nothing else really happened. He's too small to climb up the platforms, and he was a little scared anyway. But I know we've entered a new era...an era where if I don't want him to play on the playground, I should just go through the drive-through rather than torture him by keeping him off it while the other kids play. And it won't be long for our little monkey to be tearing it up on the Chic-fil-a playground. There are worse things, right?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wise Men and Raincoats, "Too TIght" and 8 hours!

Wise Men and Raincoats:
When we got out the nativity scene tonight, Mac informed us that the wise men, shepherds, and Mary and Joseph are wearing raincoats. I suppose I can sort of see how the garb from the time of Jesus is poncho-esk. I tried to explain that those are the clothes that people wore when Baby Jesus was born...but I have a feeling it will be awhile before that sinks in.

"Too Tight":
Mac's new way of complaining about anything not to his liking is to tell us that it's too tight. Sometimes this makes sense...he doesn't want to wear this pair of shoes--they are too tight. He doesn't want to be in his car seat so he complains it's too tight. (Neither the shoes nor the car seat are in reality too tight--but the complaint actually makes sense, at least.) He also applies the complaint to other things that make no sense: He doesn't want a particular food, so it's "too tight". He doesn't like that I've latched the screened porch door so he can't go outside and dig (his new obsession, by the way), so it's "too tight". So, in reality he has no idea what the phrase itself really means.

8 Hours:
Arden slept last night from 11:30 pm to 7:30 am. She turns 7 weeks today. YAY ARDEN!! I'm hoping it will last, but trying to remind myself that she's still brand new to the world and it's okay if it doesn't.

Speaking of the little girl, she's calling for me now. Hope this post makes sense because I don't have time at the moment to read back over it...