Saturday, May 27, 2006


I’m a mover. I’ve always been a mover. My body is in constant motion. It is an involuntary action. My fingers tap and my leg bounces. I love to have something to read and I love having music going in every room I’m in. Usually it is soft instrumental music. I don’t like to much noise, but quiet music to listen to is perfect. I’m forever busy. I can’t just sit still. I can’t just eat a bowl of cereal. I can’t just watch TV. I multi-task everything. It isn’t that I’m trying to get more done with my day, that is just the way I am. When I eat breakfast, for example, the act of eating is so mundane; I can do it without thinking. I spoon the cereal into my mouth, chew, and swallow. So, why not do more with my mind and time? I love to read magazines and cookbooks while I eat breakfast. I’ll read anything, even the ingredients of the cereal box if that is all I’ve got.

When I was in school, my leg bounced all the time. I was sitting at my desk, reading, working, etc. and my leg moved constantly. It was never a conscious movement. It is what my Dear Hubby calls a nervous habit. When I watched TV I would always cross-stitch. Why just sit and watch a show when I can sit and watch a show AND work on my latest cross-stitch project.

When I can’t go to sleep right away at night, my leg muscles start to flex or my big toe moves in beat with whatever song is going through my head. It drives Dear Hubby crazy.

I’m a mover.

Then I had children. Now, you might think that I would move more in my day because of my children. I thought so too, until my first baby was born. I went from moving constantly to sitting still while I nursed a newborn. Then this newborn wanted to be held through his naps. If I put him down he started screaming, and rather than dealing with the screams, I sat still. I couldn’t stand it. I didn’t like it. I found a solution quickly. I started reading. In the first three months of that baby’s life I read 15 books. (My big toe was probably moving while I was reading.) I read many great books, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Dark is Rising series, The Black Cauldron series and many more. When baby turned four months old he became aware of his surroundings and didn’t let me peacefully read and hold him at the same time. Suddenly he started hitting the books with his little fists or kicking them with his feet.

(Funny thing about this baby is that he was a mover too. From the day he was born, his arms and legs moved constantly, even while nursing. When he would fall asleep his body would twitch. It could never settle down. Where did he get that from?)

Sitting still has been the toughest part of being a parent of small children. For some strange reason, all of my children have preferred that they be held while they nap. The moment they are put down, they wake up and begin to cry. Again, rather than deal with the screaming, I sit and hold them. I have found ways to stay busy. My left arm is strong. I can hold a sleeping baby for a long time in my left arm. So with my right I do many things. Surfing the Internet is a super way to keep busy while sitting still. The only thing that moves is my right hand. A slight movement of my hand moves the mouse all over the screen. A light click with my right index finger leads me into new pages to read. I’ve read a lot about many topics thanks to Internet and sitting still with a sleeping baby. When the baby is sleeping, I can read. I tend to keep at least two books on my stand right next to my rocking chair. Right now you would find the books Speak and Names Through the Ages. As well as being a mom, I’m an armchair linguist.

A few weeks ago I had a wonderful experience in sitting still. The baby was fussy and ready for his morning feeding and nap. This baby is a bottle-fed baby. That was his choice, not mine, but that is another story. So I sat down in my favorite chair, my rocking chair, nestled him comfortably in my left arm and put the bottle in his mouth. With my right hand I picked up the latest book I was reading, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a Narnia book that I’m re-reading for the first time since my first baby. I had not been reading long when my two year old comes up to me. She climbs up into my lap and settles herself on the right side of my lap. I re-adjust the baby, the bottle, the book and we make room for the toddler. Soon, they are both asleep and I sigh in relief at the peace that settles over us and I can read my book with no interruption. After a blissful hour, I finish my book. Still my lap is full and I’m stuck under two sleeping kids. Any mom will say the best thing to do is not to wake sleeping babies. Because of the precarious position I’m in balancing the kids I can’t reach my book, Speak, on the stand next to me. So I sit there, trapped. I start thinking of the things that need to get done. There is laundry to fold, dishes to clean, a floor to be swept, a bathroom in great need of a good scrubbing. Ahhh, I’m stuck! I shouldn’t be sitting here, I should be working, but if I get up, both kids will wake up, and I don’t want to do that.

I realized that there are times in life that the only thing that needs to be done is just to sit still. I looked at the children lying on either side of my lap. They are beautiful. They are sleeping with total peace because Mom is holding them. I reflect on how lucky I am to have such two beautiful, healthy children. It wasn’t all that long ago that I held their two older brothers this way. Now neither of those boys can fit in my lap, much less two of them. They grow up so fast. It won’t be much longer before the toddler gets to big and sooner than I’m ready, the baby will be to big for my lap. This baby is the last. There are no more after him. He is my last opportunity to hold a baby like this. As I sat there, stuck under two children, I realized how wonderful it was to sometimes just sit completely still and enjoy the moment, a moment that will be gone all to soon.

The morning light is shining through the curtains in the window, giving everything in the room an icy blue glow. It is a peaceful color. There is no noise – no music, no television, no telephones, nothing. All I hear are the birds outside and the sound of peaceful breathing coming from my children. I sit there for forty-five minutes more looking at the children, thinking, and saying a silent prayer of thanks. Thank you for these sweet babies, thank you for my comfy rocking chair, thank you for allowing me to finish my book, and thank you for forcing me to sit still and bask in the precious moments of babyhood. I’ll be a mother forever, but a mother of a baby and toddler for a short time and each day that passes makes that time shorter.

There are times where we (I) need to forget the laundry, forget the dishes, forget the To Do list and not feel guilty about sitting still. Forty-five minutes after I finished my book and sat in peace with my babies, the infant woke up and that sweet, peaceful time was over. The baby woke up the toddler and the toddler decided she was ready for lunch. We got up out of the rocking chair and I faced the dishes in the sink. Who cares? I just had the best morning; I can handle anything.

27 May 2006

Books mentioned:
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander
Speak by Tore Janson
Names Through the Ages by Teresa Norman

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Mother's Spirit

Nothing can prepare you for parenthood. That is what all the baby books say. There was never a more true statement. Nothing can prepare you for what you will experience as a mother. Of course this statement is said to new parents with their new baby in their arms. A newborn is shocking the first time. The cries, the feedings, the amount of poop something so small can produce so many times in a 24 hour period. However, after surviving through four newborns, each with a very different personality, that statement of not being prepared isn't talking about those first few weeks of adjustment into parenthood.

Having been a mom for eight years, I have seen so much in the way of disaster and chaos. I have also been very surprised at the laughter and creativeness of children. Just when you think you've seen it all, the children surprise you with something new. Never could have I imagined the slickness of a floor covered in butter that has been squeezed out of its container onto linoleum. And the work it takes to clean up that butter! Never could I have imagined waking up from a nap (a nap that was on the sofa and happened only because I fell asleep from exhaustion and not an intended nap) to find the entire downstairs, which is tiled with white tile, to be covered in red marker. Streaks of red ran all over the floor and after following the red road into the kitchen I found the toddler drawing with the same red marker all over his 11 month old brother. Luckily the baby was only in a diaper so the red marks were on the skin of his belly, arms, legs, and forehead.

I have cleaned up just about everything off the floor. EVERYTHING!

However, children continue to surprise me. Lets take a particular Monday, for example:

After a night of very little sleep, because the baby felt the need to be awake and fuss all night long, I was feeling quite tired. But, there is no rest for the mom. The morning went fairly well and normal. I swept up Golden Grahams off the floor, and scrubbed up some chocolate milk that I had missed when wiping up the spill the day before. This day of course, is the day after Mother's Day. A day that by itself was very much like any other Sunday. Mom and Little Miss Toddler play Sequence, put together a puzzle, watch a Care Bear video, fold a little laundry, and enjoy a lunch of homemade macaroni and cheese and apples.

So, the morning passes and we pick up the older brothers from school, and now the real fun begins. After coming home from school, the boys want a snack. I let them take care of this. They can fix what they want and are expected to clean up after themselves. They are very good at this, fixing what they want. They often forget to clean up. But this day they want jelly toast. Not unusual. Bread is placed in the toaster and jelly is spread. When they are done, the younger one goes off to play while the older one works on his homework. He has a good incentive to finish quickly, we will go swimming in the cold pool after he is done. To help him with brain energy, he pours himself a bit of dry cereal. Little Miss Toddler thinks this is a good idea and she quickly scales a kitchen chair onto the counter and gets a bowl out of the cupboard. Coming back down she starts to pour some cereal into the bowl she got. Where is mom during all of this? Mom is holding the baby, feeding him in her left arm, blissfully reading a book in her right. Maybe not blissfully, because the baby is kicking the book as best as he can. I am trying hard to read when suddenly the sound of a breaking dish rings through the house. Quickly the baby is set down on the floor and I rush into the kitchen so see Little Miss Toddler standing in the middle of the shards of a former bowl that lay on the floor. She is quickly picked up and placed in another room. Homework is taken to a different area of the house to be finished. I go back into the kitchen with the broom in hand and start sweeping the remains of the bowl mixed in with some dry cereal. It doesn't take long to clean up, but the baby is very upset that Mom is not holding him, that he has been left alone on the floor. He howls, making sure that even though his is abandoned he is not to be forgotten.

The floor is clean, the homework done, and I announce that it is time to swim. Swim suits are put on and floaty boats are pulled out. Little Miss Toddler is placed in the purple one and I climb into the cool pool with the baby, placing him in the other boat. The oldest son jumps into the pool, goggles on, and swims about. The pool is unusually cloudy, but I think nothing of it and begin pushing one baby boat while pulling the other. After a few minutes the oldest son hops out of the pool. “Mom, there are duck eggs in the pool!” At that very moment I felt one roll over my foot. I yelped, making the baby cry. We make our way back to the side of the pool and climb the ladder onto the deck. I set the baby, now wrapped in a warm towel, back into his little orange boat. I arm myself with the net that is used to skim leaves off the surface of the pool and I search for the eggs. Walking around the outside of the pool, looking in, I finally spot one. With the net, I fish it out and look at it. It is a bit bigger than a chicken egg and more of a yellowish-gray color. It has a crack and a small hole. In the hole I can see part of a gray baby duck. It is dead and I feel sad. I look for the other egg in the pool, but the water is too cloudy and I can't see. Anyway, the baby is screaming again. So, into the house we go. I feed and cuddle the baby. He goes to sleep. Soon the phone rings and it is dear hubby. He is on his way home. I told him about the broken bowl and the duck eggs. We discuss the pool problem for a while and then I told him I needed to go so I could get some dinner started.

I walked into the living room where the boys had started up a movie. It is a funny movie and I stop for a few minutes to watch it with them. Suddenly I notice an odd smell. I turn around and look into the kitchen. It is filled with smoke. Through the smoke I see Little Miss Toddler standing at the counter watching flames rising six inches out of the toaster. In a slight panic and a bit of amusement I grab the toddler and put her on the ground. I yell to the kids to get out of the house. They are too involved in their movie and don't hear me. I didn't know that part until later though. At the moment I was unsure what to do with the fire coming out of the toaster. First I pulled it by the cord so to move it out from under the cupboards. I didn't need those to catch on fire too. A moment later some toast pops out of the toaster. It is on fire. It lands on a piece of paper, but that is good. I picked up the paper and threw it into the sink where there was a bowl with water in it. Now the flames from the toaster are gone. I unplugged it and watched it a few moments to be sure the fire was out. It was. It had been the toast on fire, not the toaster. However, the toaster is ruined and after a good amount of cooling time, I threw it away.

As crazy as it sounds, I was glad the toaster fire had happened. First and most importantly it showed me that there is NO smoke alarm downstairs. How I had never noticed that before is surprising since that is often the first thing I check when we move into a new home. Second, it gave me a great topic to discuss at Family Home Evening later that night. I'm so glad more things didn't catch on fire. It would have been horrible. Dear hubby made it home soon after. He walked in to find all the doors open, and the smell of smoke still strongly lingering in the air. He was amazed that I was still in such a good state of sanity after all that had gone on that afternoon. I think it was my lack of sleep and just running on fumes that made me to tired to feel any other way. I was amused by the entire day, but a bit shaken by the fact that we have no smoke alarm or fire extinguisher.

There is no way that anyone can be prepared for parenthood. Each child finds a way to make his or her experiences in the world unique. Each parent faces a set of circumstances that no one could have warned them about. The books warned me that potty training would be a messy time with many accidents, but not a single book warned me about a two year old who would find BBQ sauce to be the perfect body rub down. I guess it gives the skin a nice brownish glow.

Actually, toddlers love to put things on their skin. Aside from covering himself in BBQ sauce, my oldest has experimented the most in what works for skin care and what doesn't. One day I found him sitting in the sink completely covered in body lotion. It was all over his clothes, in his hair and of course, on his skin. Now, lotion does go on the skin and he had that right, but not in the excessive amounts of the entire bottle at one time. All toddlers keep a stash of pens somewhere in their home. Then they use those pens to, well, draw on paper, important documents (paper), walls, doors, little brothers, and of course, themselves. A toddler covered in his own body art is funny to see, unless you are getting ready to head out the door to church or for family photos. Toddlers have found mud to be another skin covering favorite, but that has been a proven skin technique for years. Only women who indulge in mud baths or mud facials usually aren't using the dirt from their back yard and often bugs are not to be found in commercial mud skin treatments.

When I think back to the many baths that have had to be given after messy disasters, the broken dishes, the drawings on the wall, the fires, I think how lucky I am. Lucky to be alive and lucky to have four children who continue to surprise me. As my 6 month old gets bigger each day, I wonder, what will he do to me? What messes will I be cleaning because of him? How many rolls of unrolled toilet paper will I try to salvage? How will I get yogurt off the ceiling? What exciting adventures are awaiting me?

Then I ask my self the real question..... What will these kids do to me when they become TEENAGERS?

ML May 25, 2006


Well, this is the start. The start of my Random Thoughts. What I post here will be essays that I've written, mostly about motherhood since that is what consumes my time and thoughts.

A bit about me:
I am a Mom. I have four lovely children. There is an infant, a toddler and two school aged kids. These four kids have the most personality I've ever seen in kids. They are each different and highly spirited, that is to say, busy. Each day my two school aged children come home to a clean house and a plate of freshly baked cookies.....NOT! The house is often messy, thanks to Little Miss Toddler and althought I love to bake cookies, I often don't because if I do, I eat them. Not good.

Well, I hope you enjoy my postings. Thanks for visiting.