Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Pictures

Here are the pictures that belong with the December 26 post. I'm posting them here because then people using Reader can see them too. Merry Christmas!

Reasor enjoying a Christmas orange

Alena enjoying her new kitchen

Christmas Snow Angels

Reasor, in his Halloween costume which is the warmest outfit that fits, looks in the window.

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Long distance parenting

Sunday evening I was watching home videos from when Alena was much smaller. In the video I was reading a story with her. Well, I was pointing to objects and naming them and she was too. I watched myself trying to understand Alena's budding speech. She pointed to something and said, "ylolo." At first I thought she was saying yogurt. That was one of her words at the time. She somehow communicated to me that that wasn't what she was saying. I guessed again. "Lotion?" I then proceeded to talk with her for a few minutes about lotion. She kept saying, "ylolo" and pointing to the page. The video me was content to believe I had figured out what she was saying. The watching-the-video me realized that she was saying "yellow" and pointing to something yellow. How had I missed that at the time?

On Monday evening I was nursing Reasor and listening to Kevin and Alena doing her bedtime routine. She was being less than cooperative. I had all sorts of suggestions for Kevin on how to get her to do what he wanted. I didn't shout out to him for two reasons: I had a sleepy baby on my lap, and I refuse to become that kind of bossy, naggy wife. Instead I sat and thought about what I do when I'm doing Alena's bedtime routine, and realized that when she's less
than cooperative I don't have any good ideas of how to change that. None. It's like it's impossible to think in that situation.

These two experiences have lead me to this conclusion: Parenting is easier -- even easy-- from a distance. That's not how it works though. Parenting is a full contact sport. Parenting from a distance, although easy, is less effective. In many cases it's entirely ineffective. I guess I just have to roll up my sleeves, prepare to be all out of ideas much of the time, and just get to work.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


There are endless movie and television plots based on a parents trying to live out dreams through their children. These never made sense to me, because it seemed so obvious that a person wouldn't get the same joy out of someone else accomplishing something as if one were to actually accomplish it for oneself. I now know that it the case of parents and children it's entirely possible, even likely, that a parent can feel more joy watching his children than the children feel themselves. However, the plot element still doesn't make sense to me because the joy comes from watching the children have joy, and in these movies and television shows the children are never having joy. It's always a drudgery or misery for the children. Perhaps in the future I'll discover that as a parent it's fun to watch your children in the midst of drudgery and or misery. If there's one thing I've learned in my 26 years it's that I don't know much, and some things will eventually make sense.

Alena was sick on Christmas Eve. So sick that we had to cancel our friends coming over to do the nativity with us. So sick that when some of them didn't get the message and came anyway, they looked at Alena and decided to go home. Christmas morning didn't start with sparkling eyes, gasps, and excitement from her as we had anticipated. Reasor had oodles of fun, but Alena had a bit of a slow start. As the day wore on, she started to feel a little better and the sparkling eyes came with it. She spent several hours playing with Reasor and their new toys. There was immense satisfaction for we who had played Santa to watch the joy in our children's eyes. There were several times throughout the day that as I watched them, I was aware of feeling more joy than seemed possible. I was happier than I had ever been about Christmas, and the day was full of spontaneous hugs and "I love you's." I think I was happier that my kids were happy than they were.

And then, it started to snow. Alena has been talking since October about how Christmas involves making snow angels outside. We had tried to prep her for a lack of snow here in our new home, but when she looked out the window Christmas morning she asked why there wasn't any snow if it was Christmas. The weather people had spent the week ever so excited about the possibility of flurries on Christmas. I had my doubts. I was wrong. We ended up with enough snow to make a few snow angels and a 14 inch snowman. Christmas snow has never been more magical. Never I tell you. I can't imagine anyone being happier about snow than I was as I watched Alena being happy about snow. It's like her emotions are magnified in me when I watch them. I guess it took being a parent for me to start to truly understand what empathy is. I wouldn't trade the experience of feeling my children's Christmas joy for 10 years of being a child feeling Christmas joy. May we all remember who the true source of joy is, at this season of His birth.

Merry Christmas! Jesus Christ lives!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Greatest Accomplishments

The other day I was bemoaning the fact that some people choose to discount two of my greatest accomplishments as a mother (giving birth without pain medication) without giving it a second thought by saying things like "You must have easy labors." As if that is the only way a woman could ever say no to the epidural. There is really no way of knowing if my labors are harder or easier than anyone else's. For all I know they are easier, it just irks me for that to be the only explanation some people can come up with.

Today I added another feat to my list of greatest accomplishments as a mother. I dare you to discount it with thoughtless one-liners. Today I let Reasor play in the pantry while I finished the corn bread and put it in the oven, figuring everything in there was edible and pantries are safer than ovens. I heard him smacking his lips, but didn't think much of it. He is generally smacking his lips. After the oven was safely closed I went over to get him and found him grasping a roach. A roach. A roach! My presence startled him and he relinquished his hold, whereupon the roach skittered away and I stomped on it with only my slipper to protect me. (That was the feat. It fits snugly here in the middle of the story.) As I cleaned up the roach guts I hoped for all I was worth that they were roach guts and not baby drool. And then I saw it, an open container of raisins. Now dear readers, please join me in hoping that that was what the lip smacking was about. Please let it be raisins. Please.