Monday, January 23, 2012

One of these things is not like the other....

This holiday season, when we would go look at Christmas lights around Richmond, we had an ongoing joke about our arrival back home.  Scott would say something like "Wow, look at this house!  It is sooooo cool.  These people must be really awesome."  And then the rest of us would comment on how great the family that lived there must be and how we should park in their driveway and go meet them.  In the midst of our comic routine, Josh would always remind us that it was just a joke and actually, we live in this house, not a strange family.  Thanks, kid.  I guess this is an important stage in child development...understanding real and make believe, right? 
The boys have decided to keep the storyline going through the winter and will often make up imaginary people that they will meet when we open the doors to our house.  They talk about the ages of the kids and what rooms the kids sleep in and what toys they will play with when they meet them. Sometimes they even pretend to talk to the other kids.  A little goofy, but all in good fun.
sidenote: I am also hoping this is a part of normal child development.  You know, imaginary play and creative story telling?  Right, that's exactly what it is.  I don't really need to call any child psychologists over to our house, right?  My kids are completely normal.  Yes, we will go with normal.  
So, here is where it gets a little weird.  The names for the imaginary kids often change.  Sometimes we will meet another "Danny", or a  "Josh", or a "Joseph", or (real) Danny's favorite "Roger".  The names usually are connected to a story we read in the bible or a book.  Sometimes it is names of (real) friends.  Pretty typical names....
Every kid has to have some imaginary friends, right?
And every kid names their imaginary friends, right?
Ok, so how many of your kids have an imaginary friend named Hot Fire Car?

(silence)  (awkward pause)

Any one got the number of a good child psychologist?  I have a 3 year old that he/she might need to meet.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I wish my dog could talk...

I just finished watching UP with my kids on this rainy, stay inside kind of day.  Before we began, I wondered if I was making a bad choice with the PG rating and intense moments throughout the movie. I was even more hesitant about my choice when I had tears streaming down my face in the first 10 minutes and I had to explain to my very sensitive 5 year old why mommy is crying. 
Not that crying is unusual or abnormal for their mother. 
It's the pregnancy hormones. 
I swear.
Except, what is my excuse for being quick to cry for the other 28 years of my life that have not involved me being with child?  I am a little on the weepy side when it comes to matters of the heart.  And I am especially sensitive to anything involving growing old, grown men showing pain, and heart wrenching musical interludes....ok, so UP is probably not the best movie choice for me. 
Fortunately, we survived the movie and the boys went on to play and leave their mascara stained mom to go play in the playroom.  They are pretty resilient, unlike me. 
Then enters our dog in the room with his best "mommy, please play with me, love me, give me attention" expression.  He probably just wanted to eat, but I like to think it was affection for his master.
It got me thinking about what a cool invention it would be for dog's to have a voice box, just like Dug in UP.  I get that it is just a movie and not a possible scenario, but think of the possibilities.  All that affection and unconditional love able to be expressed through a voice?  To know what is behind those longing and soulful eyes of my furry best friend? (feed me, feed me, feed me?)
I feel bad that we often pretend to talk for our dog and it is in a voice that is not very flattering.  We love our sweet Pollack, but we don't think he is the smartest puppy. 
He is faithful, loving, and wonderful with our kids, but he eats poo. 
Poo-eating seems to qualify him for a lower IQ than his non-poo eating peers. 
But I really would love to hear what he has to say.  Not so much about the poo eating, but all the other general observations from his point of view.
I also love that he has been more aware of me lately.  He is following me around more often and more attentive to my needs.  I often wonder if he can sense my increasing needs and is trying to care for his pack.  He was such a good dog with the first two boys.  I felt like he immediately looked at them as a new part of our clan and wanted to protect and care for them.  Maybe it was just his love for the taste of baby spit-up, but he was always around, always protecting.(Seriously? Poo eating? Spit-up licking? Our dog has issues)  But I am ever thankful for a dog that we completely trust around our kids.
And I wonder what he thinks about all of us?
If only we could get a doggy voice box....

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The view from our table

My children discovered a new favorite football movie, Facing the Giants, over the holiday break.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, it is a great family movie, despite the low budget and no-name actors.  After the fourth time of viewing it, my children had happily embraced the message and truth.  And after the fourth time, mommy was ready to hide the dvd.  But I was happy that they were enjoying the positive message.  At one point in the film, the coach tells his team that "If we win, we praise God.  If we lose, we praise God."  Good stuff.
Skip ahead to a few days after Christmas and our usual trip to the Henrico dump to dispose of our holiday trash and attic clean-out.  In the process of throwing out boxes, my engagement ring made its way into a truck sized dumpster.  As soon as we discovered that it was missing, we made plans with the staff at the dump to arrive back the next day at 7:30am to dig through the dumpster in search of my ring.  That evening at the dinner table we were prompted by our son to pray that we might find my jewelry the next morning.  During the prayer, I said something along the lines of "no matter what happens, we trust You God."  My 5 year old perked up and quickly made the connection between what I prayed and his favorite part of the movie.  "Mommy, we could say...If we find the ring, we praise God.  If we don't find the ring, we praise God."  I was deeply moved by the moment and realized that my child had just spoken great truth to me.
That next day, while I stood at the top of the Henrico dump, freezing cold with tears of frustration streaming down my face, I was given hope by those words my son spoke.  Despite hours of digging and searching, we never found my ring, but I believe we have gained something worth more than all the diamonds in the world.  Even in the tough times, my family was united.  We didn't shelter our children from the frustration we were experiencing, but we embraced it as a moment to grow together.  And thankfully we took time to listen to our children, because it was their words that had us remembering all that we have to be thankful for, even in tough times.  We were given a gift of truth through our children and it was a moment at the table that gave us the strength to persevere.
I do not know what your New Year is like and what your family is dealing with as we move into 2012.  In the grand scheme, a lost ring is so minor in comparison to some of the pain and suffering people are experiencing around us.  But I encourage you to go through it with your family.  Invite your kids into the good and the bad.  Talk about what God is teaching you and listen to what they have to say about His truth.  This is what keeping the end in mind is about.  Faith isn’t about our current circumstances, no matter how painful they are, but remembering that God will work through our lives in ways that we can't even begin to imagine.
In facing a time of trial in Daniel 3:16-18, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said these words as they were about to be thrown in a fiery furnace.  "17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."  Basically, this was the lesson we were learning at our dinner table.  Whether we survive our trials, win the game, find the ring....or not, no matter what He is worthy of praise.  I believe that God is doing something big in our hearts, even through our suffering, and He can do the same for you.
Today, let's begin embracing those moments of family time together.