Life Is Like a Bowl of Cherries (Or Why My Five Year Old is Still Up at 9:17 PM)

This has been one of those weekends. The kind where I spend more time being a mom and less time being a flustered teacher. The kind of weekend that reminds me that my life does in fact boil down to more than grading papers, answering e-mails, and dreaming up some hands-on way to teach about warm fronts and cold fronts. The kind of weekend where there is real joy.

(Chica just said, “I can’t believe I’m up this late.” Me neither, girl. More on this later.)

I learned two years ago that birthday parties are not my forte. I don’t think my family will ever let me live down the fact that I chose not to reserve a picnic shelter for the first warm Saturday in weeks or forgot to put sunscreen on my new baby, even though I sent my mom on a special trip to get it. I also spent waaaaay more money than I had counted on when planning my “simple” party in the park. Sheesh.

Since then my approach to birthdays has been that less is more. So when I asked Chica two weeks ago at the dinner table what she wanted to do for her birthday, I was also gearing up for how to explain my minimalist theory to my almost six-year old. Much to my surprise, her perfectly planned out party was music to my ears:

“Let’s play at the park with our family. And each Papa John’s. And do a scavenger hunt. And maybe you could get four white t-shirts so we could tie-dye.”

Done. Minus in the playing in the park, which would have been no fun in the cold rain, we did just that.

IMG_2415First, while Bubba napped, the girls tie-dyed.  After a few YouTube tutorials, Chica chose her four designs:  a heart, spiral, an X, and sunbursts.  With the help of an early afternoon glass of wine or two, Nana and I suspended our need to make everything just-so, and let Chica (mostly) be in charge of the creative process.  Nana had also bought shirts for the big girls, so we managed to dye three more before we had to stop to entertain Bubba.

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The results were great, and Chica wore her favorite one to church this morning.

Next Chica and her one party guest hung out downstairs while Daddy prepared the scavenger hunt and wrapped presents.  We snapped pictures, batted around plastic glove balloons, and played with Christmas presents they had forgotten.

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"Split the _____ apart, and break the frozen heart."  Chica found another clue in the freezer.  Bubba found an opportunity to snatch a popsicle.

“Split the _____ apart, and break the frozen heart.” Chica found another clue in the freezer. Bubba just found an opportunity to snatch a popsicle.

Once again the internets came to the rescue of this warn out mom.  Not only did it deliver Kristoff and Anna dolls to my house in less than a week (there were NONE to be had in Lynchburg last weekend!), but it also served up a ready-made scavenger hunt perfect for Chica.  A quick Pinterest search for “Frozen Scavenger Hunt” led me to the site of two not-so-warn-out moms who were kind enough to share.  One of my favorite memories of the weekend has to be Jay singing lines from the movie to help her figure out the clues he had carefully hidden.  I love that guy.

The hunt led her to her pile of gifts on the sofa which she miraculously missed as she was darting back and forth between rooms trying to find each clue.  Her expression when she found it was fantastic. Something tells me six won’t be quite as easy to fool or surprise as five has been.  As you can see, Bubba enjoyed every minute of the present unwrapping.

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In addition to the dolls she asked for, she also received puzzles, a sign from her Daddy about Hump Day, a sewing kit, fabric and craft supplies from her Mema, clothes from Grandma, and a bow and arrow from Nana and Papa.  I guess we didn’t subscribe completely to the less is more strategy.

IMG_2454While we waited for dinner to arrive, Chica and I hid from little brother in the back bedroom and tried out her sewing kit.  (I think she got the idea to ask for this gift from Beezus and Ramona because Aunt Beatrice gave Beezus her very own sewing kit for her birthday.  Beezus was enamored with it, and after she figured out what it was, Chica was too.)  A few months ago, our friend Miss Peggy from CrossRoads had shown Chica how to make yo-yos with a special yo-yo maker.  Chica picked up right where Peggy’s lesson left off, and she had one made in no time.  Nana and I both tried to help her as she got a little frustrated with sewing it closed at the end, but she insisted on doing it herself.  No surprise there, right?

Dinner was, well, perfect because both children ate willingly.  We all washed pizza down with ice cream and Nana’s yummy and beautiful (thanks Papa!) cake.  Over dinner Chica sincerely reported that this was the, “Best birthday ever!”

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After dinner our required 6-8 hours to let the dye set got cut short, as even 3.5 hours seems like an eternity to a five-almost-six year old (and her mama).  So we opened up our banded t-shirts, rinsed them out, admired our handiwork, and put them in the wash.  About that time Bubba had had enough festivities, and it was time to head home, complete with our traditional bribe of gummies to get everyone (again…including Mommy) in the car.

This evening I was still riding the birthday high as I alternated between grading papers and playing with the kiddos.  There were lots of, “Man…this has been such a great weekend!” and, “How did we get such funny kids?” exchanged by Jay and me over dinner.  So while Bubba watched his 34,524,987th episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates, I convinced Chica to join me in sewing lesson #3.

And that is why Chica was up well past 9:30.  Because she was finding so much joy in sewing her straight little stitches on what we decided would be a money bag.  And I was finding so much joy in her joy.  She even exclaimed her most favorite idiom at one point, “Life is a bowl of cherries!”  (No kidding.  The kid has a bizarre fascination with idioms.  I checked a book out from the library about them once, and for some reason, this one really stuck.  No one in our house even likes cherries.  Go figure.)

Yes, she is wearing her Little House on the Prairie dress.  She usually takes after Laura, but today she was Mary, I guess.

Yes, she is wearing her Little House on the Prairie dress. She usually takes after Laura, but today she was Mary, I guess.

So while sometimes life feels like a bag of ungraded papers or unwashed dishes or lesson plans waiting to be written, some days it’s not like that at all.  On those days, I say you ought to stay up late and eek out a few more reasons to be joyful.  Stitch another stitch, read another bedtime story, and write another blog post.  Enjoy those days where life really is a bowl of cherries…

…or better yet, when it’s a bowl of Nana’s strawberry cake.

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P.S.  Many thanks to my friend, Lan, whose e-mail this week included just the encouragement I needed to post again when she wrote, “Not to be a total pain in your butt, but I strongly feel it’s time your next post was due.”  She was totally right.  It’s been way too long.

 

 

 

What I Should Have Said to My Friend Who Doesn’t Want Kids

The threat of the coming snow on Wednesday meant a welcomed lunchtime early dismissal for teachers this week. While I was busy planning out a location in which I could woof down my leftovers and keep working in the few hours before daycare closed, my coworkers were making plans to enjoy lunch out together like normal adults. It took some major convincing on their part to get me to agree to go. My mind was stuck on the fact that I hadn’t accomplished one-fourth of the things I had hoped to get done during the work day AND I was about to get stuck in my house with my crazy little people for at least five days. In a row. “I HAVE TO GET MY WORK DONE!!!!!” my task-oriented brain was screaming.

But they were offering to go to my favorite new restaurant, and they did say we were going to talk about work stuff we need to get done anyway. AND the pork stew in my lunchbox was only so appetizing for the third straight day in a row. Oh, and that still, small voice that often tries to remind me that it’s completely possible that relationships can be more important than work. Oh, yeah, that. So I went.

I’m glad I did.

We talked about work, the drinks were free, the food was good, and the company was even better. As our conversation wrapped up, I attempted to make my exit and eek out a few more minutes of work time before the 3 p.m. daycare closing. Again I said, “I have to go get some work done BEFORE I’M TRAPPED IN MY HOUSE WITH MY KIDS FOR FIVE WHOLE DAYS. AHHHH!”

As everyone laughed a polite laugh, my honest, child-less friend observed, “Wow. Everybody makes having kids sound so bad. I’m just dying to have kids,” she said sarcastically.

Boom.

I don’t really know what I said at that point. Nothing, I guess. But I’ve been thinking about her….and me, and them….often as I’ve been stuck here in our snowy fort: Is it really that bad? And if having kids isn’t that bad, then why do I always talk about the bad parts?

I think sometimes we talk about those hard parts because if we don’t attempt to find the humor in it, then the only other choice is anger. Like the pencil drawings on the wall, the blue paint stains on the floor, and the orange permanent marker to the carpet. I’ve just chosen to find it amusing now that my two year old can find the most destructive item in any given room, in spite of my best efforts to hide all of those things out of reach. He has special ninja powers that help him seek out, find, and acquire the contraband, all while being so silent, you’d never suspect him. It’s either laugh or stay mad. I’m choosing laughter….and those stories are fun to tell.

Maybe we talk about the bad parts because we need to know we’re not alone. I’m not the only one in the world (or likely even my circle of friends) who has been woken up on a snow day by grubby fingers exploring every interesting hole on my face. I’m not the only one who has to check for peanut butter and snot stains on my shirt before leaving for work. I’m not the only one who loathes bath time and pushes the limit each week on the acceptable amount of days between torture sessions. Do you know just how much relief and freedom I felt when I shared this with a friend who then proceeded to tell me she has been known to go two weeks between baths before?? (Don’t worry friend, I won’t blow your cover.) We need to know we’re normal. Our kids are normal. Talking about the crazy parts usually leads to confirmation that everyone else is just as crazy.

I’ve been wondering, though, if we don’t talk about the good stuff because we’re afraid we’ll sound like we’re bragging. Or maybe because we don’t want to give an unrealistic view of what this parenting thing is all about. Even more likely, for me, I just don’t stop dwelling on the icky, mundane, tough, exhausting, painful, confusing, whatthehellhaveigottenmyselfinto moments long enough to recognize and be thankful for the good parts.

So that’s where I am today on snow day number 2.5. I’m busy counting up the good things, trying to articulate what I should have said to my friend who us grouchy mommies have scared kid-less.

This:
You’re right. It’s hard, and I make it sound no fun, but there are so many good parts. Go get another glass of green tea and bag of pita chips, and I’ll tell you about those parts that make it fun too…

Watching your big kid happily play outside in the snow by herself from your warm, sunny window, singing made-up words to a tune from Frozen at the top of her lungs.

Figuring out that the same big kid is now big enough to help with housework. Don’t underestimate the gift of one more person in your family who can unload the dishwasher or push the vacuum.

Seeing your little kid napping snugly on Daddy’s warm lap, both snoring like it’s going out of style.

Hearing either one of them say, “Thank you,” without having to be reminded, reassuring yourself that you are doing at least one thing right.

Being comforted by a little person when you’re the one with the tears and the pain.

Witnessing your kid learning to read. It’s magical.

Catching them playing and sharing with each other without any help from you.

That amazed, fantastic look when they accomplish something they didn’t know they could do. It doesn’t matter if it’s reading a whole book on their own or just stepping off of the porch into the snow unassisted….when they squeal, “I DID IT!” you’re still amazed right along with them.

Overhearing your kid say funny things like, “That’s my fravrite!” when he gets ketchup (with a side of pickles and grilled cheese) for dinner. Right now that same funny kid is saying, “Really? Really??” to the vacuum like it’s telling him a story he doesn’t believe. Last night, as we all watched a movie together, he said, “What the…?” and “Oh my word!” at all the right times. They make you laugh all. the. time.

Your kid (finally) successfully getting a haircut without a need for excessive tears or force.

Oh, and snow days stuck in the house to slow down and remember why you really do like them after all.

But here’s the real thing, friend….aren’t all the things that are really worth doing both really hard and really good at the same time? Wouldn’t you say that about marriage? And teaching? Having a house? Being a friend? Knowing Jesus? Aren’t each of those things messy and frustrating and time consuming and tiring and overwhelming right along with rewarding and stretching and amazing and life-giving?

So it’s worth it friend, and it isn’t all bad. Thanks for reminding me of that. Thanks for reminding me to see and talk about the good parts too.

Ok….off to bathe that kid who just had a haircut. Don’t ask me how long it’s been.

Hey, mommy friends:  Leave me a comment.  Remind me (and those friends we’ve scared kid-less) of the good parts I didn’t mention. 

Bubba’s Dictionary, Second Edition

It’s been 6 months since the latest version of Bubba’s Dictionary was published.  Time for an update:

want not want  verb  negative form of the verb to want:  I want not want buckled. 

anglo mushin  noun  small, round, flat type of yeast-leavened bread which is commonly requested split horizontally, toasted, and spread with peanut butter

brits  noun ground-corn food of Native American origin, that is commonly served for dinner when grilled cheese or mac & cheese are denied

yogrit  noun  1. a fermented milk product produced by bacterial fermentation of milk  2.  one of only a few (relatively healthy) food items that everyone in our house will willingly consume

monsur game  noun  1. a mind-numbingly dumb iPad game in which you feed monsters various food items and observe their reaction   2.  a break for Mommy

akshulee  adverb  1.  as an actual or existing fact; really  2.  a modifier used to express just how wrong an acquaintance may be:  Akshulee, it’s brits.  I want not want brits.  I want yogrit.

 

Two By the End of Breakfast

I started (again) to try to record 1,000 gifts.  I think my last attempt made it to about 70.  That’s a whopping 7% of the way, friends.   But this is what new years are for, right?  Trying again with new hopes that this time you might make it.  Or at least make it further than before.  This time I’m using the Joy Dare collection, prompts that make you think a bit, focus your thankfulness.  Check it out.

I realized ‘round about Saturday that my chances of thinking of something to fit the prompt increase if I read it in the morning and not wait until I’m crawling, defeated, into the bed at well past my bedtime.  So I checked this morning’s suggestion, “3 graces from people you love,” and casually mentioned it to Jay.  Seeing as how I had no plans to leave the house on this unexpected snow cold day home from school, I knew I had to watch for three graces among the three other people that live here.

I just didn’t expect to already have two by the end of breakfast.

photo20.  Jay agreed to take Bubba to school.  While we were enjoying together our healthier version of breakfast (also inspired by the New Year), Jay offered to drive Bubba to school.  Not just agreed…offered.  Anyone living anywhere in the United States today knows that it was hellacold outside.  Chica’s kiddie thermometer (thanks Betty, what a timely gift!) said 5 degrees when we checked it this morning.  In addition to the scarf on the weather girl and the snowflake which I’m assuming means it’s cold enough to snow, there was now an exclamation point next to the snowflake too.  I guess that’s the No-Joke-Stay-Inside symbol.  So as we made jokes about hypothermia and losing limbs, he offered to be the one to go out, and I was thankful.

21.  Chica invited Bubba to share her chair at the breakfast table.  This morning, as most mornings, breakfast was a battle.  By (what I thought was) the end of it, Bubba was a sobbing mess, crumpled over on the kitchen floor.  “Do you care if I just let him cry?” I remember asking Jay.  He didn’t, so I vowed I would enjoy the breakfast I had fixed for myself then try to help him pick up the pieces and get our day back on track.

photo 1Next thing I know, tenderhearted, sweet Chica had invited him to perch beside her in her chair and keep eating.  As she scooted his bowl over to his new seat, I watched in amazement as he kept eating the same soggy “Fwok Fwakes” he had refused a few minutes ago.  “Grace number two, and breakfast isn’t even over,” I remember remarking to Jay.  That was fast.

22.  The shredded cheese smeared on the dining room floor.  So grace #3 from people I love came after dinner, and I guess it’s technically for someone I love.  In one of my many moments of distraction today while trying to complete a writing project, I decided I would do something I’ve been meaning to do for a while:  teach Chica how to unload the dishwasher.  So I did, and it was mostly painful and slow, but there was one bright exclamation of, “This is fun!”  (She got over that real fast, don’t worry.)  This got me thinking that it’s about time she have a few regular jobs around the house.  So I printed her off a checklist and tried to explain with every positive spin I had why her four new “jobs” this week were a really cool thing.  She totally bought it.  I love five.

So tonight she set out to accomplish job number three:  vacuum the dining room floor after dinner.  Except Bubba had conned Daddy into giving him a pile of shredded cheese for dinner and then proceeded to use it like confetti.  (I don’t love two, so much.)  I know that the vacuum and shredded cheese aren’t a great combination, but I forgot to tell her that before it was too late.  So I handed her the rag and encouraged her to try wiping it up…a skill that she has also not quite mastered yet.

Shortly she was “done” and ready to go join Daddy and Bubba for the nightly see-what’s-cool-on-Daddy’s-iPad-in-Bubba’s-bed party, and I had to survey her work so she could be dismissed.

There was still cheese.

But thankfully (I guess maybe this is what I’m really thankful for!) some small piece of a conversation with a friend resurfaced.  I can’t even remember for sure which friend, but I know she reminded me of the importance of not going back behind your kids when they start to help.  Let it be good enough.  So I extended grace and I let her go, squeezing her and reminding her how proud I was of her hard work.

And the cheese smears are still there.

Tomorrow, and likely the next day and the next, when I walk past them I’ll try to keep reminding myself to extend grace.  And I’ll keep reminding myself, too, that I only have strength to do this because I’ve been given grace upon grace myself.

Grace in the parenting.
Grace in the working.
Grace in the eating.
Grace in the counting of the gifts, even.

Grace upon grace, to you, friends.

A Note to Self: The Wish List

Note to self:

Please, for the sake of your own sanity, ask the kids for their Christmas wish list in November.  Preferably before the day you go shopping.

Sincerely,
A Tired Santa

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photo5Every year it’s something.  At two it was a Spider Man ball and at three, a skateboard.  Last year it was a scarf.  This year, we got a handwritten list the last week of school.  As in this week.  As in after Santa has completely finished all the shopping.

And every year Santa manages to pull it off.  Barely.  The tiny finger skateboard instead of the full size one she was expecting didn’t go over so well, but it happened at least.  Rose’s in the Plaza turned out to be a great place to get a scarf on Christmas Eve….while she waited in the car.  This year the list has been a bit more challenging.  Here’s the rundown:

1.  Spider Girl Costume:  So, who knew there even was a Spider Girl anyway?  Chica, apparently.   I considered making one.  For about 17 seconds.  Ha.  Hahahahaha.  I owe all my thanks to Jay and Amazon for this one.

2.  Rainbow Dash:  The list says, “Pegasus.”  I sure hope this is the same thing as Rainbow Dash…??  Anyway, during one of our stops at Michael’s over the last month, Chica spotted a stuffed version of her most favorite pony.  Despite multiple methods of coercion from her (begging, whining, shaming, etc.), we didn’t walk away from the store with this toy.  Thankfully she has a gracious Nana who was willing to go back to the store and rescue Rainbow Dash this week.

3.  Wishbone:  Seriously?  Where does she get this stuff?  She wants a real wishbone.  Like from a turkey.  This week we happened to buy a whole chicken already cooked from Fresh Market when my mom was here visiting.  When I saw the list, I thought I had the wishbone covered.  Welllll, Jay never saw the list.  So, while fixing leftovers one evening, he called her in the kitchen to offer her the wishbone.  They broke it together, and she  made a wish.  Still not sure whether I can count this list item as covered.  We’ll see.

4.  Elements of Harmony:  Definitely didn’t know what this was.  Her first couple of attempts to explain it to me were rather vague too.  So, like any other clueless Santa, I took to Google.   Turns out the Elements of Harmony is some sort of book of necklaces from My Little Pony that contain magical powers.  There are six different elements, each with a different color and symbol.  Amazon failed me on this one…this is not something I could buy.  (Second note to self…I need to pitch this idea to some toy maker and get rich so that next Christmas I can afford a personal shopper to pull off this increasingly difficult Santa stuff.  Errr…I digress.)

So I realize full well that at some point Santa can’t pull off every wish that will be on the list.  But my wheels started turning, and Nana’s wheels started turning, and we knew Rachel would be here soon to help.  We decided to just make the crazy thing.

I’m not going for a Pinterest-worthy how-to post, but in case you ever need to pull off a similar stunt, here’s how we did it:

1.  Pour a glass of wine.  Or in our case, three glasses.  Put the extra in the downstairs refrigerator because you’ll probably need it.
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2.  Gather the materials:  A box disguised as a book, fake jewels, Velcro, scrapbook paper, scissors, ribbon, felt, glue, paintbrush, etc.
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3.  Get your husband to use fingernail polish remover to rub the shiny finish off the back of the jewels while he watches football.  He won’t fuss as much about having to participate if he’s distracted by the game and manly conversation.
4.  Get your mother-in-law to search her amazingly huge collection of scrapbook papers for the necessary shapes:  star, diamond, lightning bolt, balloon, butterfly, and apple.  Be prepared, however, that even if she has 1,290,387 pieces of paper, you may still have to draw a few freehanded.
5.  Get your sister-in-law to cut out the shapes and modge podge them to the back of the jewels.
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6.  While they do the hard parts, you can work on creating the necklace from felt and ribbon.  You can also line the box with more cool paper from her huge collection.  Then you can do the dangerous part of hot gluing the Velcro to the jewels and the box.  Be prepared to get burned.  It’s obligatory when using a hot glue gun.
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7.  Remind yourself many times that, in spite of how much fun you’ve had creating this one of a kind gift, your five year old may open the box and immediately pick up on one important fact:  the real Elements of Harmony have 6 necklaces and hers has one with interchangeable jewels.  Be prepared for the worst reaction, and then you can be happily surprised if she loves it.
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8.  Be sure to hide all of the evidence of your late night craftiness.  This includes deleting the pictures from your iPad after you blog about it!

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SO excited about Christmas morning now.  I know that the gifts are not what it’s all about, but I just can’t wait to see her reaction.  I know that there is this small window in her little life where the magic is still very real.  I plan to enjoy that with her as long as I can.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Oh…and Lynchburg friends…

I’ve still got one more thing to check off the list so that Santa can be 4 for 4.  Anybody cooking a turkey before Christmas?  : )

On Gifts and the Giver

Last week it was Jesus the Baby.

This morning at church it was Jesus the King.

Tonight it’s Jesus the Gift.

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IMG_1646If you’re getting a gift from me this Christmas, I’ll go ahead and tell you where it is.  If you’re one of my kids, it’s under the bed.  If you’re anybody else, it’s in one of those bags along the wall of my bedroom, in the same place I dropped it when I came home from my marathon shopping day on Black Friday.  I had great visions of wrapping everything that night or that weekend and putting them under my tree to admire for the month of December.  Well….exhaustion and a stack of ungraded papers and Facebook and previously aired episodes of the Voice overtook me.  So there they still sit, and I’m sure they’ll be there until school is out for Christmas break.  And one night, with the help of a glass (or two) of wine and more episodes of the Voice, I’ll get it done.

…………………………………………….

One day this week while driving to school I heard the song, ”What a Glorious Night,” by Sidewalk Prophets.  It left me thinking about that night.  The night.

“I hear the angels singing, hallelujah.  Let the earth receive her king.”

I couldn’t help but think that the earth didn’t know what a gift they were getting on that night.  God knew, the angels knew, and Mary had some small understanding.  But God chose such a quiet way for our Savior to enter the world.  It was a glorious night, but no one around them knew just how glorious yet.

All of this left me thinking about God, the Gift Giver.  As much as I hate the wrapping, I am eagerly awaiting my night to be gift giver.  I’ve picked out things that I know my kids will like.  I can’t wait to see Chica’s reaction to both the things she asked for as well as the things she didn’t know she wanted.  Bubba…well, he doesn’t know to want and ask yet, but I anticipate he’ll be just as excited, if not more.

So I imagine that God had some of those same anticipations as the Gift Giver that night.  He knew that the Gift he had picked out was exactly what we needed.  It was exactly what we wanted (a savior, a king), but the form it took was unlike anyone had expected.  So as the earth slept, he delivered the Best Gift and waited for us to discover it.  Some days, most days, I feel like I’m still discovering it, still unwrapping it.

“I know that love has come.  Singing it out:  Jesus Christ is born!”

Just like the shepherds, I’m amazed.  Just like the shepherds, don’t let me hide it.

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So one more thought about the gift and the giver.  Can I just confess that a small part of my joy as a gift giver is the price at which I find my gifts?  I start my Black Friday shopping with a fairly tight budget, and I mostly stick to it.  I found Chica’s one “big present” this year at Ollie’s for $10.  Woo-hooo!  And Jay snagged Bubba’s during Cyber Monday on some fluke, two hour deal.  As much as I know this really isn’t the point, it sure has made the giving sweeter for me.

But what about The Gift Giver?  I keep rolling over and over the idea tonight that his gift was at full price.  The biggest price.  I wonder if his joy that night was also mixed with tiny pangs of sadness as he knew just how much it would cost him in the end.

Let the earth receive her King.  I eagerly await that glorious night.

Oh, what a glorious night.

 

Baby Jesus Has Been Sleeping in Bubba’s Bed

For some reason this morning, Bubba and I found ourselves curled up in the kitchen on a stepstool together.  In a rare moment of mommy nostalgia, he was letting me hold him like a baby.  I sush-ed him and rocked him and cooed, “Ni-night Baby Bubba.  Close your eyes.”  He would pretend to be asleep, I would surprise him awake, and he would laugh.  A lot.

As always goes with toddler games, I was done way before he was.  I wondered if he might keep playing with a baby of his own, so I fished one out of the bottom of Chica’s closet.  It was naked, of course. Chica apparently doesn’t believe in doll clothes.  I swaddled it tightly, surprised a bit that I hadn’t lost my touch.  Maybe it’s like riding a bike.

Bubba sush-ed the baby and rocked it and unwrapped it.  He wasn’t satisfied with a naked baby, so we had to find it a diaper.  I showed him how to hold a hand under its head so that he wouldn’t drop it…again.  By the time Jay came upstairs to fix us lunch, the baby had become Baby Jesus, and Bubba was kissing him goodnight, laying him in Bubba’s own bed.  (The baby started out as a girl.  There was a bit of pronoun mix-up at first.  Daddy was very confused.  I just rolled with it.)

IMG_1613So Bubba has spent the rest of his afternoon taking care of Baby Jesus.  Baby Jesus drank at least 27 bottles of “baby juice” and ate pretzels, but he didn’t really care much for the dried mango he was offered.  He listened to Bubba sing songs, looked out the window, sat with us while we did crafts, watched a Mickey Mouse show, and took a few more naps.  He has had at least two dirty diapers (which we conveniently have to change each time), and he as cried often.  Just now Bubba tried pushing Baby Jesus in the stroller to see if this would help.  I think it did, until he fell out and got rolled over.  He’s on bottle 28 now.  Juice makes everything better.

One of the songs we sang Baby Jesus this afternoon was Away in a Manger.  Daddy doesn’t do anything related to music halfway, so we of course began the second verse:

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying He makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.

I couldn’t help myself.  It was as if, for the first time, I finally heard what the words really said.  I interrupted so delicately…

“What a load of crock!  ‘No crying he makes?’  He was a real baby.  Of course he cried!  He woke up, he was hungry, and he cried.  What was that person thinking?”

As Baby Jesus has spent this icy day with us, I’ve thought more and more about the humanity of this perfect miracle.  Like the author of this carol, we like to think about a glowing, swaddled bundle lying peacefully in a bed of straw.  But do you think it was just like that?  I think that he had his fair share of projectile vomiting, that Joseph walked laps around the stable while sush-ing him, Mary learned the hard way about a baby boy’s natural reaction to cool air, and she was likely miserable while figuring out how to nurse him.  And of course he cried.

Isn’t it amazing?  I’m still contemplating today what kind of love God has for us that he chose this way.  There were so many other ways he could have chosen to send our Savior, but he chose a baby.  A baby that was miraculously and mysteriously 100% human and 100% divine, at the same time.  So unexpected.  So humbling.

Come, Baby Jesus.  Come with your crying and your dirty diapers and your middle of the night feedings.  Come to our mangers and to our hearts.  Come with your life-changing miracles and your forgiveness and your love for the unlovely.  Come quickly.