Thursday, June 12, 2008


Today I am grateful that I have a little girl that likes to run around barefoot, roll around in the grass, run up and down a small hill like it is an amusement park ride, fling the bubble wand around with so much enthusiasm that bubbles truly go in all directions, and sing songs indoors and out with great passion.

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
And if You never grant us peace

But Jesus, would You please . . .

Last lyrics in the song "Gratitude" by Nichole Nordeman

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Puddles aren't for licking

Living in an apartment building provides some outdoor obstacles we try to combat. While we do have a small hill (very exciting) next to our apartment entrance, we do not have a fenced in yard. Sometimes I dream of the day I can slide the back door open and say, "go out and play," while looking at the kids out the kitchen window. As for now, we will have to be a little more creative in creating outdoor experiences.

We are blessed to have many parks surrounding us. They might actually outnumber the Starbucks! We do make plenty visits to various parks, but that is not quite the same thing as playing in the back yard. There is a tennis court in our complex and a few afternoons I took the girls to the court, and let Aislynn run around in this fenced in green asphalt play pen. We took some balls over the other day and she spent a good amount of time throwing them back and forth over the tennis net. Last week we played a little family tennis I use the term "tennis" extremely loosely, and hit some balls around. And I do mean around, not so much back and forth, since Aislynn confiscated our rackets and balls throughout the "match."

Tennis takes on a whole new meaning when it includes 2 little girls. When we were first married, Andy and I used to go play tennis together, and we would actually break a sweat from our rigorous play. Now I am breaking a sweat from having an 18 LB warm little body on my back while I try to bend over to get the ball. Last night in my overly ambitious state, I suggested we all head over to the court for another family "match". We all put on our tennis shoes and I put on Isla (on my back). I found a little racket for Aislynn, since on our last tennis day, she seemed extremely interested and territorial with our two rackets. Of course now that she had her own racket, the interest was minimal and she soon found gathering up the tennis balls and putting them back in the tube to more exciting. This was only a problem when the balls she wanted to gather up, included the ones we wanted to hit around! However, this problem was soon remedied by her realization that there were a series of small puddles in the court next to ours. We do live in a "luxury" complex you know (at least that's what the sign says), so we have 2 playing courts!

I think children are drawn to water of all kinds. It is like this magnetic force. Besides being totally grose, dirty, germ pools, I think puddles are fun. Aislynn thinks they are even more fun. In her mere 32 months of life she has already made many "puddle memories" some which I encouraged, many which I did not.

The other day I let her stand outside in the rain, holding an umbrella (don't worry, no thunder). She was out there for a good 15 min before I made her come in.
What is it with kids and water? We'll dive into that question on another day! Back at the tennis court, Aislynn did her regular circling of the puddle, like a wild animal and then began to "pounce" quite similarly to a wild animal. Although her "pouncing" involved splashing in hydrogen and oxygen and a little bacteria I am sure. I looked at her happily splashing away, and thought, "what's the harm, she'll take a bath after this and she is conducting experiments! I love it!" First she stomped slowly, then faster, than she ran through it, touched it with her hands. Although none of these things would be ok with many parents, I am not one of those parents. However what happened next, definitely would not be ok with any parents including me. Aislynn quickly bent down and tried to lick the puddle water, "Yuuuuuummmmy!" She exclaimed, she really does drag that word out. I immediately shouted, "NO LICKING THE PUDDLE!" Three words I did not envision myself yelling when I decided to let Aislynn "experience life" in the form of playing in dirty water. She just looked at me almost shocked that this was not considered proper puddle etiquette. And I looked at her almost shocked that my little girl with sensory food issues found it more troubling to lick a piece of pineapple than to lick a dirty puddle.

It only made sense that the next thing she did was sit down right in the largest puddle. As I went to shout my next round of "I thought these puddle rules went without saying" words, I just sighed, realizing her whole back side was completely wet. Might as well let her experience getting wet. I would like to clarify that I do not condone my child sitting in puddles on a regular basis, and I will probably kick myself for letting her do so, since now she will think this is acceptable to do. But on this particular occasion, on this night, in this tennis court, in that outfit, right before a bath, it was ok. And believe me, it didn't stop there, she as practically rolling through the puddles, at which point we decided to reel her in. We felt we had given her more than enough freedom to experience puddles for one day-probably more like an entire year!

Reluctantly, Aislynn left her puddles. Actually leaving these pools of water was such an emotional experience for her that she had started to cry before we escorted her off the court. She looked up at me as we walked away, almost soaked from the waist down, and said "Wipe the eyes?" She was apparently bothered by the water in her eyes from her tears, the other 50 percent of her that was wet, not so much. I wiped her eyes with the corner of my shirt. "Thanks Mom," she said.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Experience Life

"One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, "What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again? -Rachel Carson (excerpt from Amanda Blake Soule's book The Creative Family )

Yesterday Aislynn wanted to help me wash the windows. After I had thoroughly sprayed and wiped down both the inside and outside glass on our back door. Aislynn announced, "Aislynn's turn!" Lately when she wants to do something, she simply declares it her turn. Sometimes you let your child be "helpful" even when its not. I gave Aislynn a spray bottle with water and some paper towel, and she went to work. She started out spraying the window and then wiping it with the paper towel, but soon found it was more fun to just use the spray bottle. So much for streak free shine!

It is rare that I turn down Aislynn's offer to "help." And a two year olds assistance is seldom more help than trouble. But I love that she is experiencing new things and exhibiting that desire. Many of the things I love to do around the house are because my mom let me trouble her with my "help." Cooking, sewing, being creative, these are all things my mom let me experience at an early age as I grew to love being in the kitchen, unsuccessfully attempting to sew barbie clothes, and creating more mess than artwork!

Life experience. It doesn't have to start when you are a teen or in college or out on your own. It starts the day you are born. I want to make every day count for my kids and give them as many opportunities and experiences doing and trying new things as they can get their little hands on.

Yesterday I received an email bulletin from "Parent Center," a prominent online parenting source. The title read, "How to raise an imaginative child." That was the featured article. I immediately thought to myself, "Do parents seriously need to be told how to raise imaginative children?" It all comes back to those life experiences. If unimaginative parents provide their children with little experience in exploration, getting messy, discovering new things, and creating; then when those children grow up they will have no imagination and raise unimaginative children. So I will continue to explore, get messy, discover new things, and create right along side my children.


"Smile! Isla! Isla! Aislynn...Aislynn! AISLYNN SMILE!!!" And this is what I got. Vigorously shaking a tambourine in one hand, camera in the other, I attempted to fulfill once again, my life long dream of taking a cute little picture of sisters, smiling at the camera, holding hands and singing Bible songs. Ok, maybe that's a little over the top. At this point I am half way content to simply get them in a picture together. If they happen to both be looking at the camera by some miracle, I am a little more satisfied.

I love taking pictures. I especially love getting down at eye level with the girls and seeing what they are seeing and capturing them in the moment. Thanks to digital cameras you can now get a half decent picture of your child without having to develop a whole roll of film, hoping that you have one good one in the bunch. Some day my dream is to have something with so many megapixels I don't even know what to do with all of them! For now, my 4 little megapixels will have suffice.


It was a sunny day outside. I thought how nice it would be to open the shades and let the light pour in. Since spring no longer exists as a season, and winter seems so dreary, when there's finally one of those blue sky/sunny days-I just want to milk it for all its worth. I pulled the blinds open to reveal an extremely dusty, dirty glass door. I could see out just fine, but things were a little skewed and it was just plain dirty. I grabbed the "green works" spray, some water, and the paper towel ready to get the job done.

After successfully scrubbing the outside of the window I realized my job was not yet complete. I had removed all the dirt, but I could now see that the inside window pane was terribly smudged and dirty as we well. I had to clean both the inside and outside before the window sparkled like new.

There are so many times I am like that window. Its so easy to go through a day and appear nice and clean to everyone around me, like a half washed window, cleaned on the outside. But if people could look inside, they would see the smudges of imperfection and the dirty sin. Thankfully there is someone with something more powerful than a bottle of "green works" to clean up my mess! Jesus is the ultimate washer, cleaner, purifier of every kind of smudge, stain, and dirt. All I have to do is call on Him. It is so simple, and yet in the business and distractions of life, I find myself forgetting this simple truth.

There is nothing like looking out a clean window. Once the light was shining through, I thought, "Why I have I just gotten around to cleaning this window, things looks so much better!" And its the truth, when we let Jesus come in, do a thorough cleaning, things look so much better inside and out.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Jesus is fun

One of the scariest and most exciting things about being a parent is that you don’t know how the story will end…that journey your child makes from baby to adult. I have a general idea how I want things to turn out for my girls. It is a collaborative effort, which I am already reminding myself of now 13 years early in preparation for the teen years.

I do know I want my girls to be strong, confident virtuous women with a good amount of self esteem who love Jesus. In these early years, I wonder, “What effect does going to church really have on them? When we talk about Jesus or pray before bedtime, does it really make a difference?” Sometimes when Andy says, “Let’s pray, can you pray Aislynn?” Before dinner Aislynn will say, “No pray, no prayer!” I jokingly say sometimes, “Well SHE’S not a Christian.” On the other hand, she does pray for the entire cast of the Mickey Mouse Club House. I think those two balance each other out!

So what does all this mean anyway, these attempts to spiritualize our children? To “expose” them to Jesus?

On the way to feeding group in the midst of our Christian jams, a Ginny Owens song came on. I heard Aislynn sing the first line of the song (she is very musical and has an excellent memory for music we are discovering). “All I want to do is give this life to you, all I want to do is give this life to you…” she sang. The song goes on “Oh all I want to do is give this life to you. And let your will be done. Till it’s all I want to do.” Very powerful words and here is my 2.5 year old singing them. She doesn’t know what they mean but she is saying them out loud. This is what is going in and what is coming out. I prayed in that moment that she would really sing those words one day and mean them in her heart and soul, and truly live them out. A deep moment in the midst of a dreary day.

Back at home, I heard Aislynn pretending with her Little People castle toys. She had the king and the queen out, “It’s the king! It’s the queen!” I heard as I glanced at her from across the room. “King go for a ride? OK lets go for a ride!” It was a very exciting day in this kingdom. She placed the king and queen carefully in the carriage, making sure that they were facing one another. These sorts of things were important in medieval travel. “Close the door!” she exclaimed. She attached the knight to the horse and the horse to the carriage. Off they went (with side effect hoof noise). And then there it was, “Time to go to church. Let’s go to church. Ok!” The king and the queen were going to church. I smiled to myself.

Of all the places the king and queen could go, and we (and they) go a lot of places. Just last week we went to a gymnastics gym, the park, mcdonalds, feeding group, gym class, etc. and the list goes on. And so I asked, “What are the king and queen going to do at church?” “Making music!” she replied. Aislynn gets very excited about worship. I usually go and get her early from the nursery, just so she can hear some worship songs in the service. She has been known to clap enthusiastically at the end of a song and shout “Hooray! Good job!” I know Carlos, our music minister appreciates this affirmation. So then I asked, “What else do we do at church? Do we learn about Jesus?” To which she replied, “Jesus is fun!” Now granted, Aislynn thinks a whole lot of things in life right now are “fun” (we are working on other adjectives); but just hearing this sweet list voice utter those words made me smile again. When was the last time I thought of Jesus as fun? Have I really ever thought of Him that way? And so I learned a little lesson from a little girl with a little imagination. “Jesus is fun.”

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

One of those days

Today I woke up thinking, “I could take a nap right now.” An option that ceased to exist September 28, 2005 when I gave birth to Aislynn Rae at an ungodly hour. I would like to wear a t shirt that says, “Take all the naps you can get while you can!” We had feeding group today and just like every other Tuesday we loaded up at 9:30 a.m. (really 9:52) and headed off to Easter Seals. Today’s music selection: a compilation of Christian Slow Jams. We like to change it up a bit. We do everything from Alicia Keys to Jingle Bell Rock, to Onward Christian Soldier. Aislynn usually comments “that’s a pretty song…” or “it’s the piano!” or “No! No! No!” -sometimes she’s not feeling it.

Anyway, we are traveling to feeding group, its rainy, I feel like a robot because I am just tired and sort of in a daze-I know-great advertising for defensive driving! But it’s just one of those days. Its humid, overcast, looks like rain. I feel a little tired and empty and just going through the motions. Sometimes you have those days. Its just one of those days.

We get to feeding group. Water our plants, do some occupational therapy, sing our songs, do the parachute, march to snack, time to eat. Sitting there with Andy and Isla and our friend Carrie (who has a little boy in the group) I think out loud “I wish I could take a nap for like 3 hours!” Carrie agreed that this sounds like a good idea. I’m sitting there on one side of the two way mirror looking in at Aislynn as they go through their repertoire of foods, wanting to just close my eyes.

Number 6 on the list: Dolphin shaped chicken finger. She gobbles it up. Number 7: Tyson chicken strip. She takes a little more time, but she finishes it off. Now Aislynn is looking around for more chicken strips. Now the point of feeding group is not consumption, but getting comfortable interacting with different foods, so they only try a little bit of many different things. A few minutes pass, and one of the feeding therapists looks away for a second as Aislynn swipes the chicken strip from the therapist's plate and starts eating it like it was always hers. Both therapists notice Aislynn has more chicken and are a little puzzled as to where it came from. Now the funny thing about being on the other side of the two way mirror is that we see everything that goes on even when the feeding therapists do not. We are sort of laughing to ourselves.

I sat there thinking, “My child is stealing chicken.” Then I realized the significance of that sentence. Not that she is predisposed to a life of crime as a thief, but that she liked that chicken so much she wanted to steal some more. Almost 5 months ago we started the feeding group. They asked us, “What are your goals? What would you like to see her eat?” I remember says, “We eat so much chicken, I wish she would just eat some chicken, even processed chicken!” Well, today she is eating chicken, she is eating processed chicken, she is eating homemade chicken fingers, she is stealing chicken. So I opened my eyes wide. I was still tired but at the same time awakened to how far we have come, how far she has come. And so it turned into one of those kinds of days.