Thursday, December 29, 2011

Because when you are a three year old boy, even taking a nap should be an adventure.



And when you are that three year old boy's mother, you snap a couple of photos and then lower your sleeping son to ground level for fear he might wake up dazed and fall on his precious face.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The santa dilemma

You better watch out. Santa Claus is coming to our house.

And I'm excited about that. The Santa buzz around here is building and I'm eager to find out what that jolly ol' dude has in store for my family.

But here's the dilemma. There's a truth about Santa that some of you might already know, and some folks think that Santa's truth is getting in the way of The Truth. The Truth that is living and breathing and blossoming in my heart. The Truth that means everything to me. And Lord willing, that Truth will mean everything to my precious children.

Recently I read a post here and a post here, and believe it or not, they both resonated beautifully with me. But how can I be moved by one author who doesn't celebrate Christmas with Santa and presents while agreeing with another author who not only celebrates Christmas with Santa Claus, but get this, she flat out believes in the ol' man?! How can I hide elves humorously around my home each night while praying intensely for my dear friend whose non-Santa practicing family is sacrificially spending their Christmas loving on a country and a people who so desperately need Jesus?

I don't know.

But I do.

And for what it's worth, here's where I've landed, at least for now:

1) I love a child's imagination. LOVE. My absolute most magical memories of childhood are my daydreams and make believes. When my childhood was lonely, I dreamed and imagined up a friend of my very own. Her name was Dorothy, and I still love her. My parents never fussed at me about Dorothy. They let her have a seat at our table and they brought her a water cup along with mine. And I thank them for that, for allowing me Dorothy.

I think this is where I find Santa in all this. It's an opportunity for me to engage in my children's imaginations. If only for a few years, it will be delightful to whip up silly stories and fanciful tales about elves and reindeer and chimneys. Some might call me a liar. I call me a dreamer.

2) If I do my job right, there will be no confusion about Jesus & Santa. If I preach THE TRUTH about Jesus all year round, then what's the difference in December? There is no difference. We still celebrate Jesus in December just as we do in February and August. His miraculous and holy birth. His eternal gift of life. His grace and mercy. Definitely His mercy. It was only this morning that I pulled into our driveway and asked my children for forgiveness and we sat there, the van in park, praying and praising because God is merciful when I'm impatient and snippy and wretched. It's the week of Christmas and I'm as broken as ever. Santa might be able to deliver happiness in a wind-up toy, but only Jesus can deliver pure, undeserved joy.

In my world, we can sit on Santa's lap on Wednesday and walk through the life size nativity on Saturday. We can write a letter to the North Pole and paint a picture of the blessed nativity.
It's not an either-or. And yet the two don't get equal playing time. Jesus will always be the King of this home.

For me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Jesus will always be the reason. The reason we breathe. The reason we love. The reason we celebrate. Santa and his shiny bells are nothing more than a fantasy that we bring to life. Jesus, He is our life. He is our heartbeat and our breath. Fantasy ain't got nothin' on our faith - our daily bread.

In a few short days, my minis will wake from their sugar-plum-filled visions to stockings full of trinkets delivered magically by a sleigh. And we will thank Jesus. Thank Him for blessing us with a loving home, warm beds, a full fridge, and precious dreams.

And don't worry. We paid Santa a visit last week. And one thing's for sure. Jesus has never received this kind of reaction from my kids.



*These pictures are from last year's Santa visit. There was only slight improvement this year. I'll share more soon.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Grandma Hollywood and the minis

During Grandma Hollywood's recent visit to oh-Alison-it's-too-cold-here Ohio, I spent a morning with her and my two minis. The nearly 90 years between them brought forth a range of encounters, some endearing, some frustrating, and some just plain hysterical.

For starters, my kids don't perceive age. They see Grandma Hollywood's thin coarse white hair and say, "Great Grams' hair is funny." Nor do they perceive the limitations that come with age. They expect her to scoop them up to her level, and bless her still beating heart, she tries. And it breaks mine to watch her disappointment when she realizes that her ability to lift a small child is forever in her past. My spunky and gregarious daughter is unaware that when she barrels into Grandma Hollywood's 90 year old legs, she risks knocking my grandmother to the floor, a fall from which Grandma literally might not recover.

And yet Grandma Hollywood lives as if the life-threatening fall would be worth it. When Miss Harper Lynn looked at her and said, "Chase me, Great Grams," Grandma Hollywood looked at me and said, "What did she say?" I responded, "She wants you to chase her." Grandma only grinned, and sure enough, she started her feeble chase, a snail's pace behind my hare of a daughter. And my 2 year old baby girl only knew one thing, she was being chased. The burst of squeals and giggles that ensued were as dramatic and effervescent as if the chase might actually result in a catch.

As I sat with my grandmother listening to her repeat the stories I had heard dozens of times before, I juggled my annoyance of her faulty memory with the constant needs of my kids, "I need to poop! I need to poop! I keep tooting and I need to poop!" No matter how high her hearing aids were turned up, Grandma Hollywood needed clarification on almost everything the kids said, "What is he talking about, Alison?"

Well, Grandma, do you really want to know?

Though I'd love for you to believe that each exchange between my grandmother and children results in pure joy and laughter, there is much harmony to be desired.

Typical of most three year old boys, my son sees pillows and immediately thinks fort. As he pulled the decorative pillows from the couch, Grandma Hollywood became intensely concerned. "Alison, do you see what he's doing?"

Me: "Yes, he's fine, Grandma."
Grandma Hollywood: "But he's pulled all of the pillows off of the couch."
Me: "I know Grandma; he's just playing."

Grandma Hollywood walked away in obvious disapproval of my son's creativity and my kids-these-days parenting. And typical of most three year old boys, it was a mere five minutes before Henry was distracted, leaving the pillow fort glaring at my grandmother. She wasted no time. I've never seen feeble bones move so fast. In record time, she had each of those pillows fluffed and positioned back on the couch ready for a magazine cover shoot, thankyouverymuch.

There wasn't much to say when my son ran back into the room and blurted, "What happened to my fort?!"

I took one look at my now-playing-dumb grandmother and turned back to my son, saying what every good granddaughter would say, "Go play."

As I sat across from my 90 year old grandmother, a woman whose grace has deteriorated while her opinions have intensified, I wonder if she remembers the days when her four children were small, imaginative bursts of energy. "Alison, Henry didn't finish his lunch." "Alison, what is that noise?" "Alison, where did Harper go?" "Alison, don't your children wear socks?" "Alison, Henry went into the bathroom." "Alison, Harper is climbing on the table." Alison. Alison. Alison. The thoughts swirling in my mind were not of a very good granddaughter.

The sweet and gentle Mrs. Claus of a grandmother who I remember has evolved into a nosey, nagging, negative Nancy. And yet as I gather my minis to say goodbye to the woman who still travels solo 2000+ miles from California to spend time with us, she clasps her thin-skinned hands around my face and directs her macular degenerated eyes directly into mine. With pure sincerity and warmth, she says to me, "Alison, I love you and your family so so much." She doesn't let go. She stays there for what seems like minutes. And I begin to melt, remembering only a fraction of what she has survived in a near century: the loss of a twin and mother during birth, the horrors of a wicked stepmother, the passing of a spouse, and the sudden death of a child.

And it's no surprise that within minutes of her departure, I long for her company once again, kicking myself for the moments squandered because of my irritability and impatience. The distance now between us truly does cause my heart to swell, and I become saddened as I think of her now home alone, her only companion the chiming clock that strikes every 15 minutes, a sobering reminder of the minutes passing, her memory fading, her brain diminishing, and her body failing.




Thank you, Jesus, for Grandma Hollywood. Wrap her in Your comfort and peace as she suffers the countless losses that come with her age. Help me to remember the blessing it is to still have a living grandparent. And give me patience and a controlled tongue in those moments when I want to load her back on a plane destined for California.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My achy breaky heart



These pictures make me melt.

We were at Matt's parents house and sweet Harper just couldn't stay awake another second. She sat down for lunch and the rest is history. As I look at these pictures, my heart goes all achy breaky, and I want her to stay tiny forever. She's the perfect size for that mini camping chair. Her face is still carrying just enough baby fat to give her a perfectly round disposition, and her little fingers, while tiny, are still chunky just below the knuckles. She's small enough to curl up in my lap, and as petite as she is, I can still tote her around on my hip effortlessly.

With only two months before the arrival of our next addition, I am becoming terribly sentimental about this little girl who is still my baby. I'm feeling this urge to tuck her into the moby wrap and remind her of the days when we were inseparable, when she slept in my bed and I nursed her and she was literally attached to me all day long. Oh, how I miss those days.

And now she sits across the room, feeding her baby dolls plastic corn and spaghetti. And she uses phrases like "in a little bit," and "hush, don't cry, baby." I can't even stand it. I'm so going to be that mother in I Love You Forever who drives across town and crawls into bed with her grown child. It's not creepy, I promise, read the book.

So to that sleeping beauty fast asleep in the mini camping chair, "I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."