Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jamie's Penchant for Mischief reaches New Heights

No really. I mean it. See?





Young man, how in the world did you get up there???

"Kime Dat!"


He actually did "kime" right up the front of the dresser. Like Spiderman.

Lord have mercy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Liturgy of Laundry

One of the hardest things about being a mother is the sheer monotony of the vocation. I've blogged about this before, but it bears repeating. The work that we do every day is undone almost immediately. The larger spiritual goals to which we attain are very long term and it may be decades before we see our ideals for our children come to full fruition. I far too often find myself replacing my daily responsibilities for home and hearth with lesser, more easily attainable and more apparently "productive" tasks. Even "good" things, when elevated above the Best become little more than idols. Fellowship with other moms is a good and godly desire, but leaving dirty dishes in the sink to pack my children, in their unwashed clothes, off to a playdate is probably less often a Best thing than I would like to imagine, however refreshed it might make me feel in the short term. Staying up too late reading inspirational blog posts?... ditto.

I have been helped recently by a book (it is so often a book of one sort or another, isn't it?) by Kathleen Norris, "Acedia and Me". While written from the perspective of a childless widow, and with a much deeper exploration of the topic and far more inspired applications, I have found in it a nugget that I find quite profound for the circumstances in which I find myself-- homemaker, mother-of-three, impatient servant. That is, to seek to become aware of  a Sacramental quality in my daily work. A liturgical parallel, if you will. The daily-ness, the repetition, the lack of immediate and visible result-- all those things can be said of many of the rythms and repetitions of the church's worship.

And in the same sense, my daily routines, if attended to with a reverential and sacrificial heart (in the sense that I offer them to the Lord as a sacrifice and an act of worship) becomes my Liturgy of the Hours, in a very real sense. And with this emphasis I can rightly order my goals; shifting from an expectation of Results, Product and Effect in my environment (my children are clean and well-mannered at all times, my house is spotless, my laundry stays cleaned and folded in the drawers, the weeds never regenerate, etc) to a desire to see change in myself-- in my attitudes, affections, endurance and perseverance, as well as a deepening relationship with Christ. This shift in perspective, in expectations, will I think cause me to be less impatient towards, less critical of, less dissatisfied with my children and husband. I will be concentrating more on the log in my own eye and less on the specks in theirs.

1 Timothy 2:15
Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

linking up...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


(this is the fourth in a series of posts I'm writing about my Water Babies. you might want to read part one, part two and part three,

James in the pool is the most improbable. Guests watch incredulously his tiny body launching from the deck, arching dragon-fly-like, wings extended back, as he splashes belly-first (every time) and then hangs almost motionless, face-down in a deadman's float for a moment, as mother-eyes watch to see if a panicked rescue is in order...

But no, he's merely taking stock of his domain. He jack-knifes underwater, touching his toes and then straightening out to kick his way to the other side. This child swims a good eight to ten feet without a breath. I hold mine while I watch... just to see... so I know when he's running low, when he's about to have to breathe or drown. He swims one-sided. His right arm takes comically vigorous strokes, while his left plasters to his side, his legs thrashing the water determinedly.

On the longest jaunt-- 20 feet, clear across the pool-- he has to flip to his back to breathe. He waits for a moment, white-knuckling the edge of the deck, grins up at me "Wha wide, Mama?" ("other side?"), then pushes off with his toes, sideways, face down, kick-rightstroke-kick-rightstroke, then swoosh he flips to his back, tiny ohsotiny face floating high in the deep blue water, utterly isolated, utterly serene, calm, self-confident.

A baby island in the deep end. 

Kick, kick, kick. Flip under, eyes wide to find the direction, re-orient, float again, kick kick kick to the edge.

Goal achieved.

Destination reached.

He elbows up over the edge, toddler pot belly resting on the deck and arm-over-arm, knees up onto solid ground. But only briefly. This solid ground is not for him. He prefers the world where he is the equal of all, where he is the master of all he sees...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


 (this is the third in a series of posts I'm writing about my Water Babies. you might want to read part one, part two and part four)

Judah... Judah in the pool.

Oh my heart.

Of all our children, he is the one we most worry over. The one we pray God we don't ruin. He seems so easy to hurt. So hard to Shepherd. So hard to understand.

But in the pool, he is strong, confident, brave. He is happy.

When this child is in the water, he is all. the. way. in. He's the one I rarely see breathing. He often just floats, spread-eagle, face-down. He dives, strong arms, broad shoulders-- so like his daddy's, but so small. He's so thin and light, it's hard work to get to the bottom to fetch a diving stick. But he charges down, dolphin-kicking determinedly.

The water seems to fuel his imagination as it does Sofi's. He talks to himself continuously, narrating a hundred adventures and ballads. His imaginary friend, "Betend Friend" (B.F.'s been around since Judah first started talking, many moons ago), swims and plays and "talks" with him. He spends a lot of time upside down. He doesn't so much swim, as he just plays.. underwater... He hardly seems to acknowledge the difference between air and water, up and down are equal, there are no limits, no rules, no expectations. Here in the water he doesn't have to worry about spilling things, knocking things over, running into stuff. His absent-minded way of walking through life is totally fine, safe, acceptable-- in the water.

If only he could float, spread-eagle, face-down all through his life, staring off into the deep. I think he could always be this happy.

Monday, September 10, 2012


(this is the second in a series of posts I'm writing about my Water Babies. you might want to read part one, part three, and part four, too)

Sofia is almost ten. She stands poised, as all ten-year-olds do, on the brink of young woman-hood, awkwardly suspended between adult and child. Vacillating between the two, rarely perfectly comfortable in either world-- the grass always green on the other side of the proverbial fence.

But in the water she perfectly straddles those two worlds, my graceful water-girl-woman. She glides and swoops and twists, mistress of herself. She feels, I think, a little safer, a little private, here in the water. She goes back to her imaginative games, elaborate plots and characters played out on the bottom of the deep end. Completely unconscious of any audience, or even any world outside these four concrete walls and 20,000 gallons of blue, she acts out her fantasies, her dreams.

I'm glad she has this place where she feels so Right. I remember all too vividly the wrong-ness that dogs one during those early teen years. A place where one feels one truly belongs is so important. When I watch her dart and glide and dive, I think perhaps we will survive these next eight years without too much heartache. Perhaps here in the pool we will always be friends. Perhaps we can come out and swim together and all the argumentation and conflict will wash away, untangled and smooth...

check out the other bloggers just writing with Heather...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Water Babies

(this is the first in a series of posts about my water babies. here's part two, part three and part four)

I'm sitting here on the deck watching my water babies swim....

My children don't swim like others I've seen-- half afraid, excited screams, tentative forays into deeper water followed by squealing retreats to the steps. My children return each day to the pool as into the arms of a lover; or perhaps a world traveler, returning to the country of his birth-- here is their Familiar, this water is their First World.

All three of them were born in the water, their improbably small and impossibly-large-at-the-same-time bodies struggling out into the birthing pool. The harsh but necessary expulsion from their warm, wet cocoon softened, delayed, made more gradual, bearable, by this detour on their way Out. I had the joy of Pharoh's daughter as I Moses-ed each one up into my arms.  
 Welcome to the big dry world, my water child.

I think that those tiny seconds of delay between womb and world has left each of my children some sort of vestigial umbilicus to the world of the Deep.

When they get into the pool, they at first seperate- each to their own corner-- no loud shouts just yet, no games, no splashing. They dive, down down, they swerve and somersault and dart from side to side. Their returns earthside for quick sips of air are so fleeting, so seamless, I sometimes wonder if I'm really seeing it, are they actually stopping to breathe? Or have they somehow grown gills in the night? Are they breathing water, not air? Only the trail of bubbles, all  I see of them as they dive down the deep end till they are merely shadows trailing the bottom...

...only the bubbles tell me there is human life in the pool.

I can see them, sometimes, under the water, eyes wide open, hair floating smooth and silky-- tangle-free for once, no longer daubed with peanut butter, dirt, paint, or any other myriad experiences of the day. Their moods seem to untangle in the water, too. They move oh-so gracefully, a slow languid swoop of arm or torso, or a whole body twists and turns in undulations, dolphin-like. The slow peaceful underwater movement of body somehow unraveling the cares of the Solid and the Dry.