Monday, April 30, 2007

Fun with Sunglasses

Late spring has brought our family the usual whirlwind of weddings, graduations, AAU basketball, and never-done yardwork. In the midst of the busy-ness, we can always depend on our three little blessings to supply plenty of meatball minutes. Our digital camera, on the other hand, is not so reliable. Fortunately, family and friends have shared photos with us, so we have some pictures to go with all the memories. Here are a few from a wedding last weekend:

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Phantom Day

I first met my phantom a few years ago. Before that night, I knew of her existence, but I didn't know her name. I was driving home from the grocery store listening to a cassette tape by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. They shared their own phantoms and invited their listeners to identify theirs. Mine is akin to Mary Poppins - "practically perfect in every way." Just add a better wardrobe and subtract the rooftop dancing skills.

Your phantom is your ideal self, the flawless person you are always wishing and resolving to be. But I haven't stopped with a phantom self. I have a phantom day too. It's that perfect schedule I keep revising but never actually living. It's a day where I get everything done and remain patient, calm, and joyful from sunrise to sunset.

This day could happen, I'm sure, if things didn't keep getting in the way. Many days I have trouble just keeping myself in line. But other days I'm trying, really trying, and no one else will cooperate. The baby is fussy and won't take his nap, and the two-year-old and four-year-old are squabbling over a toy. My husband calls and needs me to look up an address right away. While I'm thumbing through the phone book for him, the two-year-old needs to go potty and the four-year-old needs me to watch her latest stunt. Then the baby bonks his head by crawling straight into the wall. I hang up the phone to comfort him and realize I smell something burning. In the kitchen I find a pot of blackened oatmeal, still on high. We haven't had breakfast yet.

Not every day is fraught with dramatic interruptions. But selfish as I am, it takes only one or two unwanted intrusions for me to fume, "Why can't they stop bothering me so I can get something done?!?"

Another thought interrupts that one: "What would there be to do if no one bothered you?" If the husband and the children and the baby went away, there wouldn't be any oatmeal to make or messes to clean or addresses to find. There wouldn't be questions to answer or performances to watch or owies to kiss. There wouldn't be any Meatball Minutes. There would just be me, completing that perfectly empty schedule.

Last week someone gave me another article by Dennis Rainey. He quotes C.S. Lewis on this topic of interruptions:
"What we must do is to stop regarding unpleasant or unexpected things as interruptions of real life. The truth is that interruptions are real life, the real life that God sends us day by day. What we call our real life is but a phantom of our imagination."

I am the Queen

The other day I told Ali how her daddy surprised me with a honeymoon at Amberly Castle. Her response was "Ooh, because you're the queen."

"Oh, really? I'm the queen?" I said.

Her answer was swift and emphatic: "You have to be the queen because I'm the princess! Of course Daddy knows that."

I asked Jeremy if he knew. He said yes, he did.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Good Friday

This Easter was a joyous one for my family. On Friday, my dad celebrated his 50th birthday, and my brother returned from a year of service overseas.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Announcements, Compliments, and Conversations

My husband shared some special news from the pulpit last Sunday: "I'm very happy to announce that Julie and I are expecting ... " Oohs and aahs rippled through the congregation before he added, "and you were not expecting an April Fool's joke."

If we are blessed with another addition to our family, I'm thinking of announcing it here on Meatball Minutes first. For today, the most exciting news I have to share is that Jair is an official big boy now. We started potty training last Monday morning. I was ready to quit by dinnertime. Yet, by the end of the week, a reward system of Peanut M&M's, Lightning and Mater boxers, and lots of praise gave us a fully trained and very happy son.

Jair's new accomplishment has boosted his confidence with the ladies, too. He told our our friend Becky, a thin college student, "You look cute in those sunglasses." A few minutes later he informed her, "You can't fit through there [a porch railing]; you're too fat." Now that we've mastered using the potty, I think we'll move on to conversing tactfully with women. That should keep us busy for the next thirty years or so.

Ali, on the other hand, is doing well in the compliments department. She may still love her daddy more, but she made my day during this conversation last weekend:
Ali: Why wouldn't Bambi say hi to the girl deer?
Julie: Well, sometimes when boys think girls are pretty, they don't know what to say to them.
Ali: Oh. Did Daddy not know what to say to you?
Julie: Are you saying Daddy thinks I'm pretty?
Ali: Mommy, everybody thinks you're pretty!

I'm flattered, though I'm not sure where she got her information. Usually, when I ask "Where did you learn that?," she answers, "At Sarah Mony's house." (Sarah Mony, pronounced just like ceremony, is her twelve-year-old imaginary friend. Sarah has a brother named Sissa who is 7, a sister Mary who is 64, and baby sister Christy who is 1-month old.) This morning I learned she has another source of knowledge. "I was reading in this newspaper that it's good for bears to watch a lot of TV," Ali told me at breakfast, "so I guess Teddy can."

Teddy and I didn't get a chance to watch TV this morning, or read the newspaper, or visit Sarah Mony's house, but we're learning too. The little people in my house are not just a source of funny stories. They are also a source of testing and refining - trying my patience, mirroring my sin, exposing my pride, bringing me to repentance. If motherhood has taught me anything, it has taught me that I am an unworthy sinner. And yet, God has seen fit to save me and sanctify me and even to bless me with children whom he also desires to save and sanctify.

A post on GirlTalk reminded me of that blessing with this quote from Elizabeth Prentiss' Stepping Heavenward: "Here is a soul to train for God; and the body in which it dwells is worthy all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant."

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the man who shares with me the mission of training these souls. A few days ago, the kids and I spread on the grass a blanket from Jeremy's alma mater. Jair wondered if Daddy was okay with our using his blanket for a picnic. I reminded him that Daddy shares everything with Mommy, and Ali added, "Yeah, even his kids."

I'm so glad he does.