Thursday, March 29, 2012

Babies are Beautiful

I'm having so much fun watching my friends and family members become parents. In some ways it was just yesterday that I walked through that portal of no return myself, yet my children are suddenly six-and-a-half and eight. I think that means I've been a parent for eight years. It boggles the mind.

But I digress.

I've especially enjoyed my cousin Mandy's journey into motherhood. I will admit that I was a little nervous of how it would be for her. She feels things very deeply, and her health is not the strongest, so I was afraid that motherhood, with its accompanying lack of sleep and hormonal ups and downs might be especially hard on her.

My fears were ill-founded, and I'm so very glad. Her little girl is a doll. They named her Serenity, and it looks like they named her very aptly. I'm sure she has all the typical baby tendencies; spit-up, poo, teething...but she also is beautiful, sweet-tempered, and a real talker, just like her mama.

Mandy has completely accepted that it is good and right to spend time snuggling with the little one. That isn't easy for many women. She has already begun the process of enjoying these fleeting moments of infancy with her precious child, and I'm so proud of her. I love hearing her talk about the jokes she makes with her baby and her husband (who sounds like a fantastic father and spouse).

Her little one wears actual baby clothes, which I wouldn't have guessed previously, since Mandy herself favors a She has wisely decided that Serenity is her own person, and will develop her own tastes and desires as she goes through life. Again, not every woman can do that. I know I struggle(d) with that myself.

I pray that my other relatives who have just had babies or who are looking forward to that prospect in the near future can accept the ups and downs with the same grace as Mandy. Her little girl has a crazy, fun-filled life to look forward to, and although I know there are still difficulties ahead, and that there have already been bad days as well as good, I know too that Mandy will have the strength to face them, and the heart to make them count.

Here's to you, cousin. God bless you!

Hazards of Homeschool

This is the danger of introducing new science topics. Today I told Zaya to go read his chapter about protists. (Also called protozoa) He runs off all excited that he doesn't have to do his spelling yet.

After a few brief minutes of quiet, I hear a sound coming from the living room.


and again


My son is now a protozoa. The next thing I hear from the living room is,

"I need a membrane." He comes crawling into the bedroom to find a blanket. Now he's crawling around discussing his own inner working, and complaining that his sister hurt his mitochondria when she sat on him.

She is an amoeba, but has a fuzzy, silky, purple membrane, because apparently there are divas in the protist world as well.

So much for getting schoolwork done. How do you tell your children to stop being single-celled organisms and playing together nicely and come do their spelling. It would take a heart of stone, which I like to think I do not possess.

Does this happen to other mothers? I have to think it does. I have to think that, because it keeps me sane and hoping that my children will some day become effective, functioning members of society.

I suppose the rest of our schoolwork can wait until my single-celled organisms have tired of what should be a fairly limited existence.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Apples and Oranges

My father recently took a Myers-Brigs personality test, and it has started our family on a little cascade of personality testing. Whenever something like this happens, it brings to mind our quirky little differences, and, at least for a time, we understand each other a little more. Reading our personality assessments has been eye-opening as each of us say, "Hey! That's exactly right!" (I'm an ENFP. Mostly)

We've often laughed (wept?) at the extreme opposite personalities in our house, but it's been fun to see it on paper as well. Of the three children (myself and my brother and sister) I am the one who is most likely to fit in with others, get along with people, and be comfortable functioning in the world in general. My siblings would be the first to agree with that statement, so I'm not telling them something they don't already know.

Just yesterday was a great example of those differences. My younger brother and his wife and my younger sister went for a quick trip to Dallas to see a concert. They travel fairly often, and have been to quite a few different cities for one thing or another, yet things like this still happen: [liberally paraphrased]

I get a call from my brother, "Carina, are you near a computer?"
"Well, yes, I can be. What's up?"
"We're heading to that concert and we don't have a map for Dallas. Could you find the {unnamed} Theatre on the map?"
"Sure. I'm on Google maps now. Ok, I've found the Theatre. Where exactly are you?"
"We're driving down I-35. I think in Fort Worth."

That's right. They were already in Fort Worth, and didn't actually have any kind of map to get them to a location in central Dallas.

I proceeded to give them what were probably confusing directions over the phone as they hurtled down the interstate. They did arrive at their destination, so all's well...etc. I encouraged them to go by a gas station and grab a map. Crazy, out-of-the-box thinking from big sis. I was joking about it to my mom this morning, and she said that my sister actually owns a GPS, but no one thought to bring it.

This is one of the many reasons I love my family. We all need each other so much. I would feel lost if I couldn't still take care of my little brother and sister sometimes, and apparently, they would be lost and wandering around Dallas if they didn't have a big sister with a good internet connection. A slight exaggeration, yes, but you get the idea.

Now if I could just find my car keys...I guess we do have a few things in common.

(The picture includes my younger cousin. She's like a little sister, so it all still applies. I won't give away any of her personality secrets on the net. You're welcome, C.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Catching Up

The kids and I had a wonderful little visit to our family and friends in western OK. Art went on a business trip, so we decided that it would be a good chance for us to reconnect with our loved ones back home.

We made a list and tried to schedule in as many people as possible, and I think we did fairly well. We left a little something behind in almost every house: a jacket here, and sock there, a cd, toothbrush, chip get the idea.

I spent most of one morning just trying to re-collect all these tokens of our presence. Some remain uncollected.

It was especially nice to see Mr. M again this week. He was very sick this last summer when we moved, so the kids weren't able to visit with him next door like they have for the last five years. He and his wife moved to a retirement village in Kansas right after we ourselves moved out of state, and we didn't think we would ever have a chance to see them again.

We were so surprised to hear that Mr. M had been spotted at morning coffee at the cafe. We drove to three different businesses trying to track him down, but finally found someone who knew that he was at their old home, even though the car was gone. (His wife had the car downtown at the hairdresser's. I love small towns!)

We were all ecstatic to have the chance to visit with Mr. M again. It was just one of many blessings this week. Another highlight was the opportunity to hold my new "sort-of" nephew. He's only a few weeks old, and the pictures over the internet weren't enough. Now I know he's real because I held him, all tiny and sleeping, in my own arms.

All that to say, it was a wonderful week, and we enjoyed every last bit of our visit. I got to see friends I haven't talked with in years, and friends I used to spend hours with every week. Mom and Mom-in-law, Dad and Dad-in-law, siblings, siblings' spouses, nieces, nephews, cousins...whew!

I'm exhausted, and glad to be home, but I'm so thankful that God gave me the courage to make the trip on my own with Mim and Zaya. I apologize to everyone who had to clean up after us when we left, and I hope we improve in our packing and preparation abilities as time goes on.

I don't regret a moment of it, though, only that there weren't enough moments to visit everyone. Going home always renews my faith in human-kind and the power of love to cover distances, both physical and temporal. I can't wait until we're all together in the presence of God someday, and I can see absolutely all my loved ones at the same time, and for eternity.