Saturday, August 8, 2009

Of Napkins, Movies, and a Hannah

Tonight we rented a movie for the family to watch together. I was in the kitchen picking up a little and preparing popcorn and drinks. I didn't have as big a lunch as the boys (Mexican buffet -- the big dweebs), so I pulled out the rotisserie chicken from Earth Fare and started enjoying a little cold chicken.

Then Hannah sauntered slowly into the kitchen. Sauntering is how she generally moves so it wasn't terribly surprising. "Whatcha eatin', Mom?" Of course I offered her some chicken too. She polished off a wing and reached for more. I obliged. We chit-chatted while we ate and gathered movie snacks.

Finally, Hannah, covered in a rotisserie spice beard, with greasy fingers reaches into the drawer where we keep cloth napkins and explains that she needs one. I offered her a plate, but she said that no, she just wanted a "napakin". She sauntered back out of the kitchen.

A little while later I arrived in the bedroom for the movie. Theo said,

"She spilled kombucha all over the couch. I sent her to the kitchen to get a napkin. And about twenty minutes later, after I cleaned it all up, she came back with a napkin and a chicken bone."

Hahahaha. That's my girl. No reason to hurry, ever. But she's responsible enough at age two to remember the reason she originally came to the kitchen. Theo still doesn't know my side of the story. I'll have to share it with him in a few minutes, when he's done playing piano.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Minister of Music

(Warning: miscarriage discussed if that is a sensitive topic for anyone.)

The house is dark. The children are in bed. Theo is out of town. And yet, I am listening to him play guitar and sing praise songs on a CD he made five years ago. He is the minister of music in our house.

In November 2004, Theo went on his first foreign mission trip. I really wanted to go but had a small son with special needs and I was pregnant with our first biological child. It was best for me to stay home.

Theo and I knew it would be difficult for John to be without his Daddy for almost two weeks. John adored Theo and could barely wait for him to come home everyday after work. Every night Theo played piano or guitar and sang praise and worship songs after John was in bed.

At that time, John's bed was against the wall the piano was on. He would lay with his body pressed to that wall to feel the vibrations as the piano played. John always fell asleep quickly, before Theo was finished playing. At the end of the music, he would turn off the night light in John's room and say "Good night, my precious child," into the room as he went to our room.

Knowing how important this ritual was to a boy who had suffered so many attachment issues, he made some special provisions that I had no idea about. He wrote a letter to us each individually to open each day of his absence. Each letter revealed the location of the following day's letter. John's note always included some stickers too. With the first letter, I discovered Theo had created a CD of himself playing his nightly music, complete with the good night wish to his precious child.

Theo had no idea how important that CD and letters would become while he was in Romania. While he was on the plane, moving farther and farther from us, I found out that I was going to miscarry. We discussed his coming home but I insisted I needed him to follow through with what he was doing, though I missed him and wanted him terribly.

It was a time that allowed many, many people in my family and church family and other friends to care for me in ways they would not have done if Theo had been here. Love and support poured in. My mother-in-law and I developed a very special and tight bond as she cared for me in his absence. After the first few nights, I wanted to be back at my own house to mourn by myself and I found myself so greatly soothed by Theo's CD, as I'm sure John was.

The time passed in a haze and Theo was home for the hard part when I actually miscarried on Thanksgiving Day, a couple of days after he returned. Since then, I've miscarried twice more. Once on an anniversary of the first.

I've also had a healthy pregnancy that gave us Hannah. I'm now pregnant for the fifth time and find myself reminiscing as Theo is out of town. This baby has a heartbeat and has lived longer than any of the three we won't meet until heaven.

What a comfort to hear his voice, his words of praise for our God, the comfort of songs he's been singing for years. This time the CD soothes two children to sleep and also soothes a pregnant wife who has been changed and improved though she now bears more scars than when the music was originally recorded.

Thank You, Father for providing me with such a provider. Thank you, Theo for being my husband of 14 years and my love for 18. I really look forward to your live music ministry when you return. Good night, my precious husband. I miss you.

Homeschooling Hannah?

It's been quite funny to watch the schooling that Hannah has "caught" simply by watching her brother's education. Bible is our first subject of the day. Of course, I invite Hannah to sit on the couch with John while I pray and tell a Bible story and draw horrible stick figures to represent the action on our whiteboard/easel.

Most of the time, my spirited two-year-old simply roams around and waits to have access to the dry erase markers. For months though, she's been hanging around long enough to pray and add her own amens. Then she usually gets up and is off to do something else.

Occasionally she stays nearby to listen whilst caring for naked Barbie's needs, whatever they might be. Naked Barbie almost always needs shoes and pistachios. That's just how Barbie rolls.

This morning Hannah firmly planted herself on the couch next to John. She was duly armed, not with a Naked Barbie, but with a pad of paper and a pencil. She gestured with her pencil as I paused to evaluate this new development and urged me with a nod and her sweet toddler voice, "Go on, Mommy. I'm ready."

I began the lesson with my stick-figure-Jesus, who always sports a goatee, in a boat telling parables in Capernaum. I asked John if he remembered what a parable was. My second student piped up, "I'm gonna write that down, but, go on."
She sat through the whole story, applauding when the grain fell on good soil.

Now: she's partially naked and playing with blocks. But I think Barbie might be dressed. Be prepared. It's a topsy, turvy world today!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

John Writes Tragic Story

Who knew that a four sentence story could end tragically? Who knew that it could end that way when the assignment was simply, "Please write four sentences about a bird who lives in our backyard."

I was a little nervous when I assigned this task to John. He has been very resistant about the whole writing thing. I had to limit the robot suit stories. I have had enough robot suits, hamsters wearing robot suits and robot suits that wear robot suits. So today's simple assignment was a little out of John's comfort zone.

He attacked the paper greedily as he wanted to play with his cousin. He wrote furiously while she ran around waiting for him to finish. I've never seen him churn out four sentences so fast in his life. Usually he whines and complains how he can't think of anything and then he whines and complains how he forgot whatever he finally came up with. But today, he only paused for some occasional spelling assistance. My curiosity was certainly piqued.

He smugly presented his writing like an inmate with discharge papers. And then I read the story (Thunderbolt is our cat):

A bird lives in my bakyard. He runs awy from Thunderblot. The brid flies awy from Thunderblot. thunderblot caught the brid.

Sure, he should have considered more than the occasional request for spelling assistance. Sure, there's a sentence begun with a lower case letter. One must, however, appreciate the ironic simplicity of the piece. I particularly like how he used repetition to get two sentences out of one concept. Hmmm, perhaps I sense a lesson on conjunctions sometime in the near future.

It's a genuine foray into nature versus nature. It's certainly not what I had expected. He did it willingly and with gusto. It was enough to warrant the end of his schoolwork for the afternoon and a fun romp with his little cousin.

I'm thinking of changing the cat's name to Thunderblot. It sounds even more dangerous than Thunderbolt.