I am a flotation device

When I embarked on the summer of 2009, I had an 18 month old, a three year old, a four year old, and a seven year old.  My seven year old was the only child who could swim and I felt a little bit of trepidation as the swimming season was upon us.  I wasn't sure how I was going to lifeguard three drown risk kids, but within a month the three and four year old were swimming like fish and life was a little easier.

Now we enjoy swimming at our gracious neighbors pool many times a week.  Everyone except Juliet can swim like crazy and I enjoy watching them and keeping a close eye on Ju Ju.

When I get in the pool with them, I hold Juliet and work with her a bit to make her more and more comfortable.  But the other kids are excited to have a playmate in me and like to grab me from all sides and ask me to throw them, help them float, etc.

Sometimes it's a little much and I find myself saying, "Don't touch me!" or "I am not a flotation device!"  But this gets a little tricky, because I am, in fact.

A flotation device.

I am a mother.

My own mother was, and is, the strongest lifeline I have on this earth.

How can I ask them not to touch me, to hang on to me, to use me as an anchor and respite from their constant treading of water?

Jesus said, "Let the little children come."

May I reduce the number of times I say, "I need space" or "Can you please back up?"

May I not give half-hearted hugs or unfeeling kisses.

May I remember what it is like to be so...needed.

I am a flotation device.

May I do my job and hold them up.  Do more then just keep their head above water.  Love them like their life depends on it.

I am a flotation device.


Lucky 13

I haven't begun to gamble.  I'm not superstitious.  I'm not pregnant with octuplets and therefore having our 13th child.  It's just our anniversary, and we've been married 13 years today.

This past Friday night Jimmy and I went to a wedding of a friend and abused the photo booth just a little.  Us and everyone there under the age of 10.  Hee hee.  At one point Jimmy texted me from across the room just to get me to come over and take our picture.  And then we did it again.  After we waited for the children to finish.

We are best friends.  We love each other.  It is good and hard.  It is marriage.

Happy Anniversary, babe.  I love you!


The longest day of the year

Summer is here in full force and the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, is upon us.  Bedtime around here seems to also be getting later and later, the children using the excuse "It's summer!" To stay up a little later every night. And though fully aware that I'm the parent and I make the rules, I give in a little because I feel like I can't use the "get to bed we have school tomorrow" argument all year and then invalidate their opposite argument when it's summer. 

All this to say...

All day my children do pretty well at obeying me and I don't feel super overwhelmed or anything at this task called parenting.  But why is it that moving my children from sitting in one room to lying down in another seems extremely overwhelming and daunting?  It is a parental mystery.

All that to say...

Sometimes when these long summer days drag on I just long for the cover of darkness. When I'm chasing my kids to bed at 8:45 and it's still so bright outside I'd probably wear my sunglasses, I just wish I had a super dark cave underneath my house where I could send everyone to hibernate for a minimum of 10 hours. 

Sorry kids. It's not that I want to get rid of you or anything, there is just this thing that exists at night after you go to sleep.  You aren't familiar with it, and we don't have it at our house, but many people all over the world experience it every day.  It's something called quiet.  

In all seriousness, we've had a great start to summer and have enjoyed just being.  There has been lots of swimming and relaxing. I have put on my boxing gloves and I'm fighting a battle around here called "Mom vs. Screens" in which I throw books, summer goals, puzzles, piano practice, games, popsicles, and toys at my children to keep them from being swallowed by the beast called technology.  

I think I am winning.  It is a new world for us parents of kids born in the 21st century. Yes, I have an encyclopedia in my pocket.  But I pay for it.  The price?  I don't get the feeling of the book in my hands or the smell of the pages.  Does anyone out there remember when you could only watch cartoons on Saturday mornings?  When you had to write a bibliography?  When phones were attached to a wall for pete's sake?

I remember.  And I also remember long summer days as a kid filled with swimming and playing in the yard and riding my bike and pretending.  Days without YouTube.  No!  The shock!  The horror!  Who could have guessed that I would grow up to be a mom who rations out iPad time as if it is the last drops of water in a canteen found in the middle of the desert.

Anyway, I think I've said enough.  Here's to long days, the covering of darkness, and technology.  May we find our balance this summer.


Yo Yo Mom

This past Easter I got Jackson a yo-yo in his Easter basket.  He's getting pretty big for the cheap toys you can use to fill up a preschoolers basket so sometimes it is challenging to find something.  My nephew had requested a yo-yo for his last birthday, and he and Jackson are only three weeks apart, so I figured maybe Jackson would like a yo-yo too.  I figured right.

He has become quite engrossed in learning new tricks and quickly grew out of the yo-yo I got him and used his own money to buy three more.  He would come home from school and find new websites or you tube videos that would teach him new tricks step by step.

The photographer in me has wanted to try and capture his yo-yo in motion and so we rigged up a black light and a  neon green yo-yo string to attempt a depiction of his yo-yo tricks in a photograph.

Being me of course I consider the yo-yo and its tricks as a metaphor for life.  You know, the ups and downs, blah blah blah.  And I remember times in my life when I felt like I was thrown into a trick.  No regular ups and downs, but ins and outs and back and forth, you get it.

This is the thing.  A yo-yo is really no fun if it just sits there, apart from the hand of a master.  It's meant to get out there and do tricks.  To take risks.  To go for it and unwind.  And wind back up and rest.  Who was ever impressed by a yo-yo sitting on a table?  But being used, it can be quite amazing to watch.

Cash also used some of his money to buy a yo-yo.  He is still mostly mastering the up and down of it all.

As a mom over the years, I have mastered quite a few tricks.  Diaper tricks, dinner tricks, discipline tricks, I did not intend for all my tricks to start with "d."  Apparently I have also mastered alliteration tricks.

I hope I can be brave like a yo-yo.  Step out and trust the One holding on to the end of my string.

Sometimes Jackson hits himself in his head or elbow with his yo-yo.  This doesn't really apply to the metaphor I don't think, but I wanted to add that.  Sorry Jackson, but I'm telling the truth here.


May and the 5 Second Rule

There has been a long lapse of blogging around here due to an extremely busy month.  May was extreme.  Events worthy of a blog each but now it has passed and I'm just going to shortly mention them so as to not forget.

I had my home school art show on May 16th.  This year I had 34 students in two classes and the show was a bit crowded.  I feel excited to have outgrown this space.  I hope we need a bigger space next year.  But I don't want to think about putting on another art show...I need a year to forget the feeling of sticky-tack and paper cuts.

Remember these masks?

We also had the performance of our home school co-op musical.  Just a few things about this.  I knew that Libby would be able to memorize all her lines and hit every move and note.  This was not surprising.  But I have discovered that Cash too is a performer.  There was not a moment of practice or performance when the vein in his neck was not popping out.  I have been praying to discover what his gifts are.  That child has a song in his heart.  He also did a rap.  We were all super impressed.

Then we went to Epcot, using our last day of Disney parks barely before the deadline.  I had never been to Epcot, even though I grew up fairly close to Orlando.  It was pretty surreal.  I'm sure when Epcot was unveiled back in the 80s it was amazing.  Futuristic and before it's time.  But it seems to have gotten stuck there.  In the 80s I mean.  Carrying around my smart phone as I walked by a bank of pay phones just had me scratching my head.  There was more technology in my pocket than in the entire park it seemed.

And don't even get me started on Captain Eo.

Here we are in Germany
Cool art pillars in France

Then we invited our small group from church to my parents house for Memorial Day weekend.  This was fun and relaxing and full of food and swimming and skiing.  I came home Monday and woke up Tuesday feeling sore.  Like, really sore.  Like, so sore I cannot think of enough adjectives to describe my how my aching muscles protested with every single strain.  Did I forget to say it was from slalom skiing?  Which I should feel good about but really sort of regret.  Yet I know when I go back my Dad will make me get up on a ski again.

And then after that we had the last week of school which included another informal art show with my co-op art class and friends.  Jackson had his last day of fifth grade at school.  We've also wrapped up baseball, piano (one more week), and ballet.  Whew.
Mondrian inspired works by co-op Art class

Cashy-boy at baseball
I caught Libby before she took out her bun.  Smile.

Then our friends Adam and Maranatha and their three kids came to stay with us this past weekend.  Jimmy has known Adam since middle school.  We see them often when we visit Brandon and finally got them to come see us.  We tried to show them the best of Tallahassee.  We always try to get people to move here.  Because it's a great place to live.  We played some mad Catan.  And my Catan demon came out.  I am not afraid to admit it.  It was at the end of a crazy month.  It happens to the best of us.

Before the game began.  Anything is possible.
And now, I'd like to write about what I intended.  The five second rule.  I have a lot to say a lot about this.  How genius it is.  How whoever invented it must have been a mom with five kids like me.  Because 1.  People drop things a lot.  And 2.  My floors are really dirty.  And 3.  I don't want to get the pretzels back out and serve you up some more.  So just eat them off the floor.  "Five second rule!"

The five second rule has really been expanded around here though to more like "the 24 hour rule" because it's pretty common place to see someone pick up a Cheerio or peanut that's been on the floor since the day before and enjoy an unexpected snack.  A snack that they didn't have to get approved by me or find someone to help them or even ask at all.  Just discover and enjoy.   If you don't step on it first.