Sunday, October 30, 2011

Two Little Pumpkins

This weekend we took Jake and Lilly to Dewberry Farm. The weather was perfect… the kind of crisp and cool, blue-sky day that you wait all summer for, and when it finally arrives you can’t get enough of it. I love days like those because I can always picture God saying with a smile, “I made this day just for you. Enjoy!” Well, enjoy it we did! Both kids had a blast roaming through the pumpkin patch with their cousins, petting and feeding the farm animals, riding on ponies and just taking in the beautiful weather.

Slobbery kisses from the goats

Real ponies on this carrousel
Jake had a death grip on his cracker. I guess he was worried the pony might nibble it!
Lilly would have been content to stay on this horsie all day!
But then she met a pig!
She gave this pig an earful, but none of us could understand what she was saying!

As I watched my two kids running through the maze of pumpkins with such a look of joy on their faces, I remembered a story that I rediscovered this week. I have had this story in my possession for a while now. A dear friend of mine shared it with me a few years ago, and I was so touched by its simplicity and its truth, I printed it and tucked it away in a safe place. This week it emerged from my desk drawer where apparently I had stuffed one too many “important papers.” As I was trying to reach for a pen in the very back of the drawer, this rumpled piece of paper slipped out and landed by my feet. As soon as I read the title I remembered the story and smiled. It seemed like such an appropriate story to include in this post about “my two little pumpkins.”

Pumpkins Grow On Trees

An old poem tells the story of a woman who was walking through a meadow one day. As she strolled along meditating on nature, she came upon a field of golden pumpkins. In the corner of the field stood a majestic oak tree.

The woman sat under the oak tree and began musing about the strange twists in nature. Tiny acorns hung on huge branches and huge pumpkins sat on tiny vines. She thought, “God blundered with creation! He should have put the small acorns on the tiny vines and the large pumpkins on the huge branches.”

Before long, the warmth of the autumn sunshine lulled the woman to sleep. She was soon awakened, however, by a tiny acorn bouncing off her nose. Chuckling to herself, she amended her previous thinking. Maybe God was right after all!

In every situation, God knows far more about the people and circumstances involved than we can ever know. He alone sees the beginning from the ending. He alone knows how to create a Master Plan that provides for the good of all those who serve Him. Today, trust in Him and His plan. It may seem backwards, but He always does what is best.

Scrolling through the numerous pictures that we captured on our camera while at the pumpkin patch, I realized that God has given me two very tangible reminders of His faithfulness.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Divide and Conquer

“Why am I so exhausted?” This is a question I’ve asked myself at least a dozen times this week. The past few days I’ve seriously considered propping my eyes open with toothpicks around 8:30 pm, determined to stay awake until at least 10:00, because it is my only quiet time all day long. To waste it with sleep seems like a major offense.

When Jake and Lilly, now 15 months old, began walking this summer, I was elated! When they learned how to independently climb up the stairs and then slide down on their tummies, I was ecstatic! I remember telling friends and family, “My life is so much easier now that they can both walk!” Well, as I’ve learned with most stages, this one is quickly losing its luster. They have learned how to use this skill against me, making me run after them as they dart off in opposite directions. Both have no problem going up and down the stairs to play or to eat, but mention the word “nap,” and they suddenly forget everything!

Which leads me to why I am so pooped on a regular basis…. The Divide and Conquer scheme. It sounds like something that we as parents should be implementing… Divide the work, the chores, the tasks, the responsibilities that come attached to having two little people dwell alongside you in your house (that used to be clean and tidy, but we won’t go there.); Conquer the trivial battles that arise throughout the day. Sounds nice, but, no, I am referring to a plot designed by two tiny people who can barely form words, yet seem to be able to communicate quite clearly with each other.

The Divide and Conquer scheme was played out in front of me this morning around 8:00. Its simple two step procedure works like this:

Jake, on tip-toes, reaches and grabs the handle on the door leading to the garage, and swings the door wide open. Poking his head out into the dark garage, he gives himself away by the trail of “Uh-oh”s that leave his mouth. I rush over to close the door, but notice that Lilly has ventured out into the land of lawn mowers, tools, and trash cans. Realizing that Jake’s “Uh-oh”s were not intended to be self incriminating but used as a means to tattle tale on his sister (and ultimately to get me out the door after her), I quickly grab Lilly and head back inside, locking the door behind me. A sense of satisfaction comes over me as I pat myself on the back, pleased with my vigilant parenting first thing in the morning. This feeling quickly escapes me as I walk into the kitchen where Jake has had just enough time to take out the safety plug on the outlet on the side of the island. (Don’t ask me how he figured that one out, because even I have a hard time pulling out those pesky plugs.) I catch him right before his two little fingers make contact with the holes of the outlet. (Why are these so tempting for a toddler? Really!) As I finish removing Jake from the kitchen and doing a quick check for other plugs to be sure they are not exposed, I look up to find Lilly slowly plucking leaves off the tree near the kitchen window. One by one she yanks them and tosses them on the floor, grinning at me with a sly smile that says, “Gotcha, Mom!”

I guess I should be commending them both on this brilliant plan, even though I am clearly the one who got scammed. It scares me to no end that my children have already figured out that Mommy can’t be everywhere at once. I should have seen it coming, should have noticed the mischievous glances they exchanged this morning while eating breakfast in their highchairs. Who knows how long they’ve been plotting against me and why today seemed to be the perfect day to carry out their plan. As I poured myself another cup of coffee, I wondered if this had anything to do with the question I can’t seem to answer lately.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"More, please!"

For my two toddlers, Snack Time is probably the equivalent to Recess for an elementary age kid. They will literally drop whatever toy they are playing with and RUN to the table for Snack Time. For Lilly, my not-at-all-even-one-bit-picky eater, any snack is her favorite snack. I get so nervous watching her eat. She stuffs so much food into her mouth, that she looks like a little chipmunk, then she frantically taps her fingers together, the sign for "more." If that doesn't get me to give her more food, she repeats the process of tapping her fingers together ("more") and moves on to rubbing her palm against her chest (the sign for "please"). She usually performs this combination of signs over and over again, eyes bulging, as if to say, "C'mon Mom, why are you holding out on me? Can't you see I'm ready for the next bite?!" If none of her efforts prove to be successful, she will hold out her hand, desperate for the next morsel of food.

Jake, who takes five minutes to decide if the given snack is even acceptable to eat, often glances over at his sister during Snack Time with a look that says, "You really should slow down and enjoy your food, Lilly."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Park and Parade

This weekend we made the most of the cooler weather and took the kids to the park. We were there bright and early to share our bread, tortillas, and left over, stale bagels with the ducks. Jake and Lilly used to have trouble distinguishing the difference between their snacks and the “duck food.” In the past, they’ve always fed the ducks a couple of pieces of crumbly bread, then snuck a bite for themselves. “Two for the ducks, one for me,” was the way it used to go. But not today! For some reason, they both seemed to understand that this food was for the ducks only. Either they are growing up and learning that not all food is classified as a snack, or the bread was so stale that they figured it might be safer to let the ducks gobble it up.

One of Lilly’s first words was “duck,” probably because she spent so many mornings watching the family of five mallards through the playroom window. She has slowly become obsessed with them. Now she classifies anything with wings and a beak as a duck. The black birds we constantly spot in the front yard, the buzzards we occasionally see circling high above, and the egrets that can be found by the pond in our neighborhood are all referred to as “duck.” Last week, Lilly pointed to picture of a flamingo and said, “Duck!” Now usually, I correct her by saying, “Flamingo, Lilly. This is a flamingo; not a duck.” But when she went on to tell me that the penguin we were looking at was also a duck, I realized that this creature, which met the criteria of beak and wings, clearly fell into the “duck category.” In this situation, I just nodded and said, “Uh-huh, Sweetie. Good job!” rather than argue with my oh-so-intelligent toddler. So when the ducks gathered near to her and Jake, ready to consume our coveted bread, she did not hold back as she yelled repeatedly, “Duck! Duck! Duck!”

Neither of my children have an ounce of fear of these webbed-footed creatures, as evidenced by Jake attempting to stick his finger inside one duck’s bill. Terrified that we would leave the park with a fingerless child, I quickly ushered the two kids towards the swings and the slide, two activities I deemed much safer than feeding these ravenous animals! Maybe I overreacted, or maybe it was just my own childhood experience, in which a large seemingly gentle goose took a good nip at my finger, that was coming back to haunt me. In any case, Cody did not hold back his opinions of my paranoid behavior.

The kids love to go down the slide, and I have decided that it is much more strenuous for Momma and Daddy than for Jake and Lilly. I have never been more aware of how out of shape I am than when my 14 month olds are dragging me by the hand, eyes eagerly insisting that we do it one more time.

When Lilly started chasing squirrels, wanting to climb up the tree after them, it was time to go. We packed up the kids and made our way over to Old Katy to scout out a spot to watch the Katy Rice Harvest Festival Parade. Decked out with our bright red wagon, we found a spot on the corner of Second and Avenue A. Jake and Lilly loved watching the police motorcycles with their flashing lights, all the decorated cars, the army trucks, the fire engine with the extremely loud horn, the horses whose riders held patriotic flags, the dogs in costumes, the junior high and high school cheerleaders and the band that slowly marched by us as we sat on the curb. Jake was fascinated by the plastic football we caught as one truckload drove by. When Lilly reached out to touch the Eagle mascot, I cringed, waiting for her to call this feathery creature a duck. But clearly she was too in awe to say a word. She just silently stuck out her hand to touch this larger than life bird.

With everything, it seems, all good things must come to an end. Just like Lilly’s “squirrel chasing” was our cue to leave the park, we knew it was time to head home when she had one of her famous kicking, screaming tantrums when we would not let her run into the road to pluck a balloon off one of the floats driving by us. In her defense, all she really wanted was a balloon!