Saturday, September 27, 2008

Shadow Play

When I did shadow puppets as I kid I could never have imagined doing something like this. In fact, I don't really think my shadows ever looked like much of anything at all. But seeing this group makes me want to go back and give it another try.

Thanks Aunt G (& Mom) for tipping me off to Pilobolus. Aren't they awesome?!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

GPS for Real Moms

I got a great gift for my birthday from A Musing Dad: a GPS. How awesome is that? No more getting turned around and having to backtrack when I'm trying to find a new place. No more trying to read the MapQuest printout while scanning street signs and wishing my perfectly able-bodied nine-year-old could sit in the front seat and help me navigate. But even better: no more wondering where exactly the nearest gas station would be. I do this even in my own stomping grounds.

I love, love, love the long list of "nearby points of interest" that are available at my fingertips: banks, libraries, police stations (very, very important from a safety standpoint), places of worship... Yet already I find that the makers of the Garmin Nuvi have neglected the item of utmost importance to every mom of preschoolers...the restroom!

Could you imagine how much better life would be if, in that moment of panic when your child realizes they've waited too long, you could respond calmly to the desperate plea of "I have to go potty. Nooooowww!"? Imagine your poise as you deftly tap your GPS screen and select under the "nearby places of interest", the words "public restroom", then select the best option and peacefully guide your child (with the help of the pleasant GPS navigator voice) to the absolute closest public restroom.

Yep, the GPS market, which is already on fire, would fairly explode were they to make that simple modification and market it as a mommy map. Add in places for nursing in privacy, or places to hide a toddler having a meltdown...

You think Garmin will be calling me soon to ask me to consult on this new project? 'Cuz I have a few more ideas. Now if only they'd create an option for locating your GPS device. Where did I put that thing, anyway?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

To Mom & Dad

on the Fortieth Anniversary of your entry in to parenthood...
(St. Margaret Hospital, September 1968)

I imagine you there at the nursery window, Mom in a wheelchair, Dad standing behind her. You hold hands tight and stare through the glass at the all-too-tiny baby. She sleeps, safely cocooned within the protective walls of the incubator. Her wispy fingers curl in fists and her delicate chest heaves up and down. Her skin is pale, almost translucent, adding to the fragile aura about her, this October baby come in September.

A nurse sees you at the window and goes over to the glass incubator. She carefully reaches in and lifts the little baby girl for you to see. Almost immediately her tiny mouth opens in a cry and you start in surprise again. She's here. Already. Too soon. You think over the past hours, the past days. Mom-to-be, admitted to the hospital for toxemia, dad-to-be continuing to work. And then THAT day, the day the baby arrives. The messages to Dad that his baby is coming don't get passed along. Mom goes through labor, wondering if he is there waiting, and wondering how her baby will be.

At that nursery window your minds race with prayers for this little preemie. Prayers of gratitude for her wholeness, her health... and prayers that she'll stay safe and well. Prayers that soon she will come home with you where you can hold her and kiss her. But for now...

It isn't at all how you expected. That is your baby. You should be cuddling her, cradling her in your arms. That you can't makes her seem that much more fragile and far away. You wonder about her, this tiny little thing. Will she grow and flourish like all the round, pink-cheeked babies in the maternity ward? Will she play dolls and skip rope? Will she...

After a while you leave. You'll return later, many, many times - sometimes being allowed into the nursery, reaching in the incubator and touching her bitty fingers. But not holding her. Not yet.

You see, for that first month in that nursery, in that incubator, Someone Else is holding her. Some One unseen. He holds her with gentle hands and whispers over her of His plans for her. And years down the road when those hands reach out again, she'll know them... recognize them. She'll grab them and hang on.

This once tiny one, now all grown up, too big for cuddles and lap sitting, still rests in Those Hands. She's glad for a Mom & Dad who took such good care of her in her youth. And she's glad for the hands of a Heavenly Father who held her in an incubator forty years ago and didn't let her go.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, September 12, 2008

Since when do elbows figure into morals?

"Push her back! C'mon, get in there!"

The mom in the lawn chair next to me leaned forward, shouting mightily to her daughter on the field. The opposing player had been running hard alongside the girl as she tried to move the ball down the field. Suddenly her arms came up and she gave a swift, almost covert shove. Our player plunged to the ground, while her opponent took off down the field with the ball.

"They need to get more aggressive out there. Our girls aren't being nearly physical enough," the mom growled.

I watched with my stomach in knots as the more experienced team our girls were playing their very first game against continued to dominate, not by fair play, but by foul.

The banter and angry shouts to stoop to their level of play continued from the other parents on our side of the field. Then the referee blew his whistle to call a player on elbowing.

"Finally!" yelled one of the dads.

This was how our first club soccer game went a week and a half ago. And I find myself in the peculiar situation of having to explain to my daughter about playing clean, but also about following the coach's instructions. In talking to the coach, he basically said it came down to morals (following official rules of soccer which don't allow for elbowing) or doing what the ref will let you get away with. I wonder if this coach will sometimes follow the other team's lead in terms of "dirty play". I've told my daughter to not do anything wrong on the field, but to also follow instructions from the coach (and NOT the parents on the sidelines).

Sigh. It was so much easier when it was just at the park district level. I'm also left to wonder, have we done the right thing?

Monday, September 08, 2008

On the Air

Remember the book, Pampering Gifts? It's a Martha Stewart meets Mary Hunt (Cheapskate Monthly) how-to book that brings a ministry slant to decorating and gift giving. You can see the cover and link to it on my sidebar there to the right. Well, this little book has been huffing and puffing it's way along in the world of book selling. Yes, its the Little Book That Could.

A little update on it's journey: the author will be a guest on Prime Time Chicago (90.1 WMBI) this Wednesday at 3pm. She'll be talking about gift giving on a modest budget - something many of us will be thinking about even more this Fall as our economy continues to slide downward. If you're in the Chicago area, tune in on Wednesday. Outside of Chicago you can listen live over the internet at the WMBI website. Pray for a good phone connection while she's being interviewed (she's having issues with this).

Other book news: Proverbs 31 Ministries will be adding Pampering Gifts to the list of books available through their She Plans web site. Tell your church events planner and women's ministry director to check out this site. LeAnn Rice is working hard to help event planners with articles and resources for every aspect of event planning.

Just a little update, for those who want to know.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Same but Different

Yesterday was the first day of Uber-Princess's second year of preschool. I expected it to be the same-old, same-old, even though I told her to expect it to be different. It was different. She was in the same room with one of the same teachers as last year and a few of the same kids. But instead of sixteen kids and two teachers there were only eight kids and one teacher. Smaller, quieter. No long hug goodbye this year, just a little wave. Instead of skipping out to my car without looking back, I shuffled slowly with many little glances over my shoulder. For a couple of hours I was going to miss my little princess.

The trip to Panera felt the same but different too. Different day, different crowd. Ah, but the red-haired retired man in his neat polo, khaki shorts and loafers was there as usual. The cinnamon bagel tasted the same, but cost more. My regular spot was open, but I went to a table next to an outlet for the first time instead. This year I reveled in the bittersweet taste of freedom, but only briefly, before setting to my tasks.

Last year I was a mom new to those hours without children. I felt like I would get lost in the expanse of free time. Now I know all too well the tightness of their boundaries. I am familiar with where they end. Like many moms, that first year I moved more into the space than would fit. This year it's still cramped and crowded, but I can make my way around to what I need. I see that the space has expanded - just a little. And I wonder if it's enough to move in the things outside the door yet. Or must they wait for next year?

A few hours later, I leave my space, my heart a little lighter. I go back to collect my little princess who grabs my hand tight and looks intently into my face as she shows me the baby dolls and dress-up clothes in her classroom. I pick her up and carry her out of the room, enjoying the little hands wrapped around my neck. I savor being with her. And later that evening as her father tells how she ran out to tell him in a breathy voice that "Keeevvvinn" was in her class again, I chuckle. Already the space is becoming more comfortable again - different, but comfortable.

Monday, September 01, 2008

For Better, For Worse

One of my favorite comic strips, For Better or For Worse, signed off this weekend with this beautiful strip.

But that's not what this post is about. This one is a meme, with the subtitle:
5 Ways Blogging Changed My Life

This meme was created by L.L. Barkat at Seedlings in Stone, who was kind enough to tag me.
Here are the rules:

1. Write about 5 specific ways blogging has affected you, either positively or negatively.
2. link back to the person who tagged you
3. link back to this parent post (I'm not so much interested in generating links, but rather in tracking the meme so I can perhaps do a summary post later on that looks at patterns and interesting discoveries.)
4. tag a few friends or five, or none at all
5. post these rules— or just have fun breaking them

So, here goes:
1. I've found a new object that triggers my Catholic guilt. When my blog languishes from lack of posts, I feel guilty of neglect. Dear readers, please know how badly I feel when you must go for days on end without hearing from me. [Ahem]. Now that I've gotten that out of my system...

2. Before I started this blog I was virtually clueless about the world of blogging. I hadn't read any blogs. I don't even remember how I started finding blogs to read. Now I've got several tabs on my Google home page for blogs. And I enjoy reading them all because of what I learn from them - about life, writing, and the people who blog. Some regularly make me laugh (BatteredHam, Beast Mom), some make me cry (...another chapter) and many I am glad to call friends (Llama Momma, Reconciliation Blog).

3. I spent some time obsessing over my blog posts for the first six months or so. Every little thing that would happen to me would have me thinking, "hey, this would make a great blog post!". Now I just think, "hey, I want to remember to put this in my Christmas letter this year - I'd better blog about it".

4. I've found my voice. Or maybe I'm continuing to find it. A certain style seems to prevail over time in my posts, a way of looking at things, phrasing my thoughts. Blogging has been a great exercise for me as a writer in ways that my paper journal could never be.

5. I've heard your voices. I love that blogging is an interactive medium. I write articles, but rarely hear how they were received by the reader. Here I can hear back from readers immediately (hint, hint to all of you lurkers). It's very satisfying. But not only that, it is so good to be able to learn what other people think about the things I'm thinking about (whether they agree or disagree).

Tagged: anyone listed above who cares to share on this topic, along with Wily Hacker (who could use a new post sometime soon), Beth at A Quest For Relevance, and Breaths of the Heart.