Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Of Lists and the Easter Story

Jesse was out of town last weekend because his grandmother of 98 years passed away.  The girls in our family stayed home, and when I asked Hadley what she wanted to do on Saturday and Sunday she suggested we make a LIST of all the activities we could do.  I, in turn, had one of those moments similar to parents sitting in bleachers at a sporting event watching their kid do whatever she does to gain a point: I said, "THAT'S MY GIRL!" and did a little dance.

So over homemade chocolate cookies the size of our heads and glasses of milk, the girls and I made a list of things to do over the weekend.

One of the items on our list was: "watch 'think about easter shows' on Nick Jr."  To this, I asked Hadley what she thought Easter was all about.

"Easter eggs and flowers."

I should not have entered this conversation without a full script of what I would say.  Suddenly Jesus and my two religion profs at Calvin were sitting around our table as well and I could hear them saying, "Easter eggs and flowers, huh?  Whadya say to that, Callie?  Bet you wish you hadn't skipped out on a few of those classes to go to Crisan's Coffeehouse.  Hope that Nutty Irishman drink was worth it."

Here's what I told Hadley: "Actually, Easter is about Jesus."

"Jesus? I thought that was Christmas."

"Well, yea, it is, but at Easter we celebrate Jesus too."

"He has another birthday?"

"Sort of.  Easter is more about Jesus giving us a chance to be in Heaven with Him."

"Heaven?  Aren't you dead when you are in Heaven?"

"Yes." (Jesus and my religion profs have now slammed their heads on our dining table.)

"I don't wanna die!  I wanna stay here!"

"I know, I don't want to die either."

"What about Goofy?  I don't want to leave Goofy!"

"Hadley, I think Goofy can go to Heaven too." I have to say that despite this complete failure of a conversation, I wasn't too disappointed in myself to note that GOOFY is who she's concerned about leaving behind.  Um, hellooooo?  What about the woman who GAVE YOU LIFE?

Just sayin'.

Well, that was the end of that conversation.  We finished our chocolate chip cookies and went on to something else.  The next morning, we made Easter eggs.

We also decorated paper Easter eggs with stickers of the pastel variety.

And we made heart shaped sugar cookies for a playdate a couple days later.

So we got a lot accomplished over the weekend.  Everything was crossed off our list.  However, that conversation between me and Hadley lingered and I was feeling pretty bad about the way I had handled it.  Then on Monday afternoon Hadley and I were playing "The Green Eggs and Ham" game and Hadley asked me if I'd ever had green eggs and ham. 

"Actually, I have had green eggs and ham."

"You did?"

"Yup. I ate them one time."


"When I was a teacher.  Did you know I used to be a teacher?"

"No." (Hadley's now looking at me like I might look at Jennifer Aniston if I'd met her.)

"It's true. I used to teach, and when I was a teacher I had a great friend named Miss Steen.  She was a Kindergarten teacher and her class was reading Green Eggs and Ham.  Well, her students wanted to try green eggs and ham so she made them for her class.  They liked them so much they wanted all the teachers in the school to try them, so we did."

"You really tried them?"

"Yea!  But I was scared.  I don't usually like my ham and eggs green.  But Miss Steen was such a good friend so I tried them.  I don't think I would have if someone else had asked me to."

"Was she your best friend?"

"I liked her as much as you like Maya."

Hadley smiles and says, "I would probably try green eggs and ham for Maya."

Then Hadley asks me to tell her another story.  She wanted to hear about her "getting born" story.  So I tell her what I know is her favorite part of October 23, 2006.  I tell her how she cried and cried until Jesse came over to her while she was being cleaned up and said, "It's OK, Hadley.  Daddy's here."  And then there was this tangible silence.  People say that babies can hear voices while in the womb, but feeling this truth is completely different then reading it in What to Expect When You're Expecting.

I say, "You knew Daddy's voice, and you stopped crying."  Hadley smiles knowingly.  If there ever was a Jesse's girl, it is Hadley.  They are two peas in a pod.

I like lists for several reasons.  I like the act of writing with a certain type of pen on a certain type of paper.  I like the clarity my mind has when I begin naming tasks to be completed.  Someone asked me once how I relax and I told him, "I make lists." 

But part of this love of list making has grown from the fact that I am slow to process things.  I don't like to be caught off guard, and so I use a list to help myself with the stuttering or the fumbling I might do when I don't know the plan.

The trouble is, I never wrote "Talk to Hadley about Easter" on my list.  I haven't been praying for wisdom on this topic.  I don't look for books on the subject. But sitting with Hadley and talking about my good friend Rachel, and the day Hadley was born I started to wonder maybe that's a little what Easter is about.  That despite my faults, God showed me and Hadley grace anyway.  Sure, Hadley and I didn't talk about sin and death, and the resurrection.  We discussed friendship and birth, and green food.  And maybe I'm just making myself feel better, but I'd like to think Jesus might've met Hadley where she was that afternoon as she thought about her own friendships, her relationship with her dad, her own story.

Or maybe I need to write Nick Jr and request some "Think about Easter" shows.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Theme

I taught in about four schools, and in one of them I was sort of allowed to wear flip flops.  I'm still not sure if I could or not, but nobody told me I couldn't so I did.  I would wear them the minute spring had the potential of showing itself in South Bend.  That doesn't necessarily mean it would be warm enough to wear them, it simply means that spring should be up and running around, so I would wear flip flops.  A few people at this school would tell me I was "pushing spring."  Well, sometimes spring needs to be pushed. 

And although it is threatening to snow this weekend, the girls and I have all sported our spring outerwear the last several days.  The flip flops have returned, and Hadley and Harper have new "water shoes."  This year, they're sporting glittery princess and Hello Kitty shoes for the pool and beach (they're currently wearing them with socks - super cool).

With the warmer weather, the girls and I have been able to get out a lot more.  It's much easier to get outside when you don't have to bundle up.

I took all these pictures from the same spot - a park bench.  This is the first time I was able to sit down at a park while the kids played.  A lovely surprise with the upcoming season - the girls have begun to play together and I can watch the show they put on while the sun hits my shoulders and I'm sitting on a bench.  I can watch them and do a little daydreaming.  It's nice to daydream.  I highly recommend it.

The other thing we've been doing lately is going to the library and filling up the girls backpacks with books, then going across the street to Starbucks to read and maybe color a bit.

I took this picture because I realized the three of us were all doing our own thing - reading our books, drinking our drinks, coloring our pictures - it was so nice. 

I like the company of Hadley and Harper.  I like who they are, and who they are becoming.  Motherhood sometimes gets clouded by tasks like making sure they've brushed their teeth, or that they aren't hitting one another and I don't get to appreciate their company all the time.  I think I accept that.  I know these things are a part of the ballgame.  It's just nice to be in their presence without having to do much besides hang out with them.

Hooray for a new season!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"I Want to Keep Aunt Shani"

Over the weekend we had a visit from Aunt Shani and the girls couldn't have had more fun. 

We went to the zoo.
In the above picture, I'm trying to point out to Hadley and Harper how nicely the lion cubs are playing while the Mom and Dad lions take a nap.  Don't want to pass up a teachable moment.

We also went to Brookside Gardens to run around a bit.

And then we went to Comet Ping Pong for dinner.  DC people with young kids, this is the place to go.  Great pizza, and the kids can play ping pong.  It's a win-win.

My only minor complaint was that the bathroom was really hard to find.  Like "Platform Nine and Three Quarters" hard to find.

Do you see it?  Hadley's facing the door.  It can be scary going to a restaurant with a 4 year old and not knowing where the bathroom is.  But we know now, and knowing's half the battle.

My other complaint?  Bear got a little out of hand.  It started with pizza.

Then he wanted beer. 

C'mon Bear, control yourself.

The next thing you know, he's up on the ping pong table dancing to "Forget You."
That's when we knew it was time to go.

We were glad to have Aunt Shani visit us for the weekend, and when it was time to say goodbye Harper said, "Don't want to say goodbye.  I want to keep Aunt Shani."  It's always nice to get a mildly threatening compliment from Harper.  You know you've won her over when she talks about holding you hostage.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Limerick

For St. Patrick's Day Hadley wore green to school.

I wanted Harper to wear green too, but she decided she's too cool.

While Hadley did some St. Patrick's Day art,
Harper and I went to the park.

We met up with some fabulous ladies
and Harper and I got to hold some of their very cute babies.

All was well on this St. Patrick's Day
What is a limerick, anyway?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Of Motherhood and The Karate Kid

I majored in Education at Calvin when I was there.  The first education course you take, EDUC 301-303, was rumored to be the course where "they weed you out."  Always the positive thinker, I spent most of my time in that class waiting for someone to pick me up by a hook or something and place me somewhere else.

I made it through the class, and even earned a grade I was not used to seeing during my school years.  However, what haunts me to this day was a lesson I learned while taking the class.  I think it was probably one of the worst lesson I learned, and it's one that I don't accept well even today.

The teacher assigned us a section of a chapter we were studying to present to the rest of the class.  We were to give a short lecture on the section we were assigned, plan a couple of activities to reinforce the concepts introduced (as well as show our mastery in doing things like cooperative learning, etc.), and have some type of visual aide to help with the lesson.

I sat in class the day of my presentation ready to go.  I think it's important at this point to understand that not only did I have all the requirements, I was also going to show a clip from The Karate Kid - because there is so much to learn from the climatic "put him in a body bag!" scene.

Everything was going well until the girl before me got up and started giving my presentation.  And then things got worse when I looked at my assignment and saw that I had read it wrong.  I was supposed to prepare different pages. 

 Here's what I do in these situations - because they happen a lot - I cry.  I start to cry and I get excused from class.  It happened in 5th grade once when I was overwhelmed with all the work I had to do.  I cried, and the teacher excused me from class.  I got to go to the bathroom and hang out with a friend for a bit.  I got out of an afternoon of 8th grade English doing the same thing.  Don't get me wrong, the tears are genuine.  It's just a bonus that I happen to get to leave when they start rolling. 

So I started to cry.  Mostly because I didn't know if I was going to be able to show my Karate Kid clip, but I was stressed out too.  At a break in the class, my professor took me into the bathroom (See?  Things are going as planned), walked me to the sink and said, "Splash some water on your face and calm down."

I didn't like where this was going.

She put her hands on my shoulders and said, "This sort of thing is going to happen to you all the time when you're a teacher, and you're just going to have to roll with it."

So...what you're telling me is I need to improvise?  I don't like that word.  At all.

Then she said this, "It's not what happens to you, Callie.  It's how you handle what happens to you."

I just nodded but what I wanted to say was, "How 'bout YOU handle what happens to me, seeing as you're the teacher and all, and tell me I don't have to re-do this assignment?" 

She told me I had a day to prepare the correct lesson and then left the bathroom. 

Thirteen years later that story makes me equally angry and thankful at the same time.  I really wanted her to tell me that what I did was enough and that she would just let this one pass.  But she treated me like a capable student instead.  I don't know if she thought I could fix this problem or not, but it wasn't for her to decide that. 

And of course she was right, but not just in regards to this sort of thing happening in teaching.  This lesson  holds true in motherhood, too.  Particularly the last 8 days as the four of us have been fighting the Worst Flu Known To Man (that's the scientific name for it).  "It's not what happens to you, it's how you handle what happens to you."  So here's how it was handled:

  • It started with Harper.  We were in Raleigh over the weekend, and in the middle of the night she threw up three times.  The rest of our time there, she wasn't acting terribly sick, but nothing was staying in, if you know what I mean.  Harper was easy.  She pretty much sleeps it off. I'm thankful for that.
  • I got it next.  I don't handle throwing up.  I deny it's going to happen until the very last second.  This strategy proved to work well for most of my life, however, I did learn that it isn't the one to implement when you're driving on 270 and have to pull over three lanes of traffic IMMEDIATELY to get to the side of the road.  But I like drama.  So if I'm going to throw up, why not put on a show for the greater Washington DC area?
  • Then it was Jesse's turn.  You wouldn't even know he was sick.  He's so polite about it.  I think it helps to be rational in these sorts of situations.

  • Then we have this girl.  Apparently, when you turn 4, you also turn everything into a competition.  So on Wednesday night Hadley is throwing up like a champ and says, "I think it's always going to be like this."  I tell her that it won't, and that Harper got it a few days ago but she is much better now and that she will be better soon, too.  Hadley says, "So I got this last and Harper got it first?  That means Harper wins."  And because I don't want to disappoint her I say, "Well, you threw up more so you've got that."  That seemed to make her feel better.

I gave the correct presentation the next day in my class, and I think I did alright.  I'm not kidding, though, when I say this was one of the worst lessons I have learned.  I'm a hot mess when things don't go the way I planned them.  And while it would behoove everyone if I just accepted the fact that I'll be in these sorts of situations for the rest of my life, I don't believe I will ever come to terms with this fact. 

Then again, things didn't go the way Daniel LaRusso planned either, and look what he was able to do:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"It's French for 'Hello'!"

This thing has happened to me where I'll be in the middle of saying something and then I just stop talking.  It usually happens when I'm talking to Jesse and there are 4,567  other things going on at the same time.  I'll start to say something, and then a few minutes later he'll say, "You never finished what you were saying.  What were you going to tell me?"  And I'll look at him blankly and say, "I have no idea."

I believe this is due to the fact that my attention span is now that of tse tse fly.  I think the cause of this has to do with conversations like the following ones:

"Mom, can you put my elbows in my sleeves?"
"I need my elbows in. my. sleeves."
"I'm going to play slooter tag."
And then, because I have no more brain cells, I go ahead and put Hadley's elbows in her sleeves.

Here's another one:
"Mom, I have to tell you something."
"I think I like Grandma and Grandpa better than you.  But I want you to know that I still really care about you and Daddy."
"That's fine, Hadley.  Grandparents are different then parents.  I can understand why you might like them better than us."
"Right.  Well, also, sometimes when I do something bad, I hide."
I'm not sure if Hadley thought that telling me the first thing was going to soften me up for the second thing or what, but I just said, "OK" to her confession of whatever it is that she did.  I have yet to find out.  Hopefully the thing that she did isn't growing somewhere in our house.

Hadley's mission in life currently is to try and use the words "poop" and "pee" in as many sentences as possible.  I'm pretty sure she can't say them at school, and the mornings I'm trying to get her ready to go are the ones where these words are used profusely.  It's as though she's trying to rid herself of them so they don't slip out while she's talking to her friends or teachers.  But she's tricky about using them.  Take this morning, for instance.  She walks into the living room and says, "Peepoo, Mommy!"
"It's French for 'Hello!'"

The real proof that I've completely lost my mind, is loud and clear in this conversation between me, Hadley, and Harper.  You might want to put that cup of coffee or cookie down before proceeding.

Hadley took out a piece of paper and told me she was going to draw a picture.
"That's great, Hadley.  What are you going to draw a picture of?" (Big mistake, Callie.  Stop at "That's great, and just carry on with whatever you were doing.)
"I'm going to draw a picture of poop." (OK, so you've fallen in the trap.  Just say, "No, Hadley, you can't draw that."  You're the mother.  JUST. SAY. NO.
"Hadley, that's so gross."
"I'm gonna draw it." Hadley's giggling now.
"Seriously, that's disgusting."
"I'm getting out a brown crayon!" At this point, Harper runs over to see what's so funny.  When she realizes what Hadley's doing, she laughs, and then begins to make tooting noises.  This makes Hadley mad, and she tells Harper to stop it.  Telling Harper to stop anything apparently means, "Go ahead, Harper!  Keep on doing whatever it is that you're doing."  Harper continues, but can barely get any sound out because she's laughing so hard.  This makes Hadley angrier. 
"Harper, STOP IT!  I mean it!"
And me?  Here's the what I say, "Hadley?  You just spent the last 10 minutes trying to draw poop.  And now you're mad at Harper because she's making tooting noises?  IF SHE WANTS TO MAKE TOOTING NOISES SHE CAN!"

And that is why I can no longer carry on a conversation with other adults.  Although, at least I'm learning a little French.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Birthday Bash

I forgot to put this picture in yesterday's post:
It's the best picture of all, if you ask me.  Hadley decided the movie Jesse was watching, An Inconvenient Truth, looked interesting so she sat down next to him and watched it. 

And since I started with a picture of Jesse (even though it's of the back of his head), I'll continue as him as the subject since yesterday we celebrated his birthday.

That was one of the cards Hadley made for him.  The other one was in an envelope taped together so well it took awhile to open.  Hadley likes tape.  A lot.

We met Jesse in Rockville at BW3s for dinner.

Sorry for the way the pictures are.  I can't flip them.  Oh, but hey!  Maybe you could just flip your computer for a second! 

And then things got really wild.
I truly worry for Harper when she gets to high school.  She is going to be the kid who will want to "one up" everybody. 

After dinner we went home to open presents.
Not before walking away with balloons, however.

As we were driving home, Hadley told Jesse that he needed to walk slowly up the stairs so we could run ahead of him, get in the house, and surprise him.  She'd been working on that plan all day. It seems I need to help her understand the idea behind "surprise." 

Anyway, he had lots of help opening presents.

Everything went swimmingly until one of the balloons we brought home made its way up to the ceiling.  Here's Harper trying to get at it

Harper was on her way to get something bigger - like maybe her dresser - so I stopped it before things got out of hand.