Friday, May 31, 2013

An Enlightening Dream

Last night, I had a dream.

No, I wasn't walking along the beach with the Lord
Or walking in a desert called Cyberland

I was living in an apartment with a bunch of strange people. Matt was there, but in the dream, he was my brother. I had my own room, a small but cozy place, with a closet, three laundry baskets of clean clothes that needed to be put away (that part's true to life!), my computer, and various personal items like stuffed animals and picture frames.

But it wasn't my home, and these people were strange. I thought of myself like Elizabeth Smart or those girls just rescued in Cleveland: I thought I'd been kidnapped, and was being forced to stay in this apartment. And though I saw them as the enemy, the man and woman who owned the apartment were relatively nice, not abusive or anything, and I could roam the apartment freely, hanging out in the kitchen with my "captors" and people who were visiting. I had contact with my mom and even saw her once. I was even allowed to leave the apartment on occasion, so my sense of captivity was confusing.

I wasn't exactly being held forcibly, but I still knew I wasn't allowed to move out, and that they would be upset if they knew how much I wanted to get away. I thought about calling the police, but wasn't sure what I would say. I didn't even tell my mom how much I wanted to leave, because I felt she couldn't help me. I was extremely unhappy. Restless. Agitated to leave this place. Anyone I felt was an "ally" within the apartment, like Matt, I talked to about my plans for escape. I had a sense that he had more freedom than I did, and was treated better, even though I wasn't being treated badly either. He seemed to share that understanding, but we didn't identify why.

I started packing my essentials as stealthily as I could, knowing if I had to go quickly, there was only so much I could take. I prepared the whole room for moving, for some reason, even rolling up the carpet. My female captor came into the room while I was plotting this escape, and I acted as normal as I could, lying and saying that some of the things in boxes were gifts I planned to give. After a few minutes, I looked around and saw how obvious my packing had been, and knew that she was just pretending not to notice.

Sometimes, dreams make sense while you're dreaming them and then seem bizarre when you wake up and try to describe it to someone else. A house looks like your great aunt's house, but your dreaming self "knows" it is your home. A person looks like a celebrity, but your dreaming self "knows" it to be your spouse. In this dream, however, I felt very confused and didn't understand what was happening to me.

Only when I woke up was it clear as day.

I was in foster care.

Not kidnapped, not held hostage, not even confined to the house. I had more than a reasonable amount of privacy and freedom, and was safe from harm and danger—but that didn't make it home, and the restlessness of that fact was a heavy burden on my heart.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Creative Experiment

I saw this fun video on Upworthy, and Kate sat down and watched it with me. The basic idea is to debunk the idea that working under pressure fosters creativity. These media people, frustrated by clients wanting faster and faster turnaround on creative work, did a little experiment with elementary school kids, giving them a rudimentary sketch and asking them to complete the drawing in 10 seconds, then giving them the same sketch and 10 minutes to work on the task.

In 10 seconds, all the kids basically did the same thing, clarifying what the sketch most obviously represented. In 10 minutes, however, the kids' creativity came out, with time to imagine and develop an idea, transforming the starting sketch into a variety of things.

It was an interesting little experiment, so I decided to see what Kate would do with a similar task. I drew a simple, black trapezoid on paper and set the microwave timer for 10 seconds.

She turned it on its side and declared it a door, adding a doorknob and some color.

Then I drew another trapezoid and set the timer for 10 minutes.

She colored it and a couple other things, making what appears to be a collection of lamps that remind me of Ruby Tuesday.

Just a fun little activity to get the creative juices flowing. We have an art station among our prayer stations at The Road (our Sunday evening casual worship)—maybe I'll try it myself as a prayer exercise tomorrow night!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fun Stuff

We've been going, going, going lately, but I wanted to take a minute to share some of our family fun the last few weeks. 

Usually, our pizza comes out of the freezer, but I thought it would be fun to make our own one night. We did two pies—one with some veggies for Daddy and I, and one with just pepperoni and tomato slices for Kate. They were both delicious! 

I love these two shots of Matt with the girls:

The following day was Derby, which is a big deal for me as a native Louisvillian. We didn't have an official party this year, but made the essentials--mint juleps and Derby pie--and the grandparents and a couple friends all came over to enjoy the race.

I'm always the most excited person in the room, but thankfully my parents were there as well to share the thrill. Matt's parents were a little calmer, and our teenage guest (who, yes, is still with us after 6-7 weeks now) was a little skeptical of all the hype!

Claire is exercising her physical skills more and more these days, refusing to be carried up or down stairs (has to walk herself!), climbing playground ladders, and climbing up on the computer chair herself.

She also said her first sentence a couple weeks ago: "I see you!" She says it when playing peekaboo ("apaboo!") or peering through rungs of a chair or staircase. (She added "I don't know" just the other day.)

 And Kate, apparently, has taken up yoga.

For Mother's Day, we went out for fro-yo the night before, and the girls gave me their gift, which Kate picked out herself at Target: a pretty silver necklace with hot pink stones. (Though, as I said, Theresa is still with us, she has been spending at least part of each weekend with her older sister who will soon take custody of her.)

I'd celebrated with my mom on Friday before she headed back to Louisville, so Sunday, we went to lunch with Matt's parents. (We started outside and moved inside since it was cool out, thus the two settings of these pics.)

And, super-cool yesterday, we attended the graduation of a youth in our church, at which the FLOTUS spoke! Yes, Michelle Obama was the commencement speaker—the only high school graduation she's doing this year. Her speech was wonderful, and she handed out the diplomas, hugging each graduate as he or she crossed the stage. What a special thing for those kids. Even if they aren't fans of the president, I still think that's a great and memorable thing they'll always be able to talk about. 

Anything cool going on in your life these days?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

WMW: The Voice Recorder

I decided in college that I was an aural learner—that is, that I learned best from listening. I preferred hearing it in a lecture to reading it from a book. Maybe it was the note-taking I enjoyed most. Anyway, for certain
classes I developed a habit before tests of reading my notes aloud to a tape recorder (remember those things?) then listening to myself read the notes aloud while driving in my car or getting ready in my room.

I got to relive that aural, multitasking fun a couple weeks ago for work. It's an editorial consulting-type gig, for which I listened to about twelve hours of a woman dictating the story of her past few years, and brainstorming the angle and organization she should take in writing her memoir.

I have to say, those twelve hours (of paying work!) were awesome, because I could multitask. I did things I always want to do but don't because I'm usually staring at my computer! I took a long walk. I ate lunch on the back porch. I worked while driving to pick the kids up. I scrubbed the baseboards in our kitchen!

It was great. And now that it's over, and I need to type up a proposal for this lovely would-be memoir-writer (and do all my other computer-based work) I'm kinda bummed. And I keep trying to think of ways to incorporate more of this paid-listening activity into my work. I'm coming up empty, though.

I could edit spoken sermons, rather than written ones...? That's kind of what I do when I give feedback on Matt's sermons... Any ideas?

Monday, May 06, 2013

Show and Tell: MY Party

It's no secret I love planning parties. So the whole "have your kid's party here it's so easy" thing does not appeal to me. When Kate says "I want my party at Chuck E Cheese," I think "Noooo! I want to plan a cute, crafty party at home with a fun theme!"

Months before her fourth birthday, Kate was clear that she really wanted to have her party at Monkey Joe's, a kids' activity venue with lots of inflatables, or as we call it in our house, a "bouncy place." I honestly can only think of one third, fourth, or fifth birthday party we've been to recently that hasn't been at a bouncy place. It's just THE thing for the preschool set, apparently. So even though I would have loved to throw her a "Winter Wonderland" party or something else lovely, Matt reminded me (and I reluctantly agreed) that it was HER party and (within reason, of course) it should be what she wants.

So I designed invitations and ordered a cake and bought favors that worked with Monkey Joe's' colors and reflected Kate's activities and style (I just had to!) and Kate really enjoyed her party. For the record, it was kind of nice to go the "easy" route and have someone else run the show for you. (Though with the price, I'll definitely limit "outside-the-home" parties to once every few years!) 

I'm not sure if Matt actually got all parental on me and said, "When it's YOUR birthday, you can have the kind of party YOU want," but that thought came to mind somehow, and I decided I would have a party for my birthday, with the theme and food and decor that I want. 

So, my 32nd birthday is less than two months away now, and I've been brainstorming a little outdoor, evening soiree (can you still call it a soiree if kids are invited?). I'm picturing hors d'ouevres and wine in the backyard, with lights strung around the patio umbrella and kids playing on the swingset while the grownups chat till the lightening bugs come out. I've got a Pinterest board going, aptly entitled "MY Party." 

If we're friends IRL and you live in the Nashville area, I hope you'll be there! 

In other news, I'm now having a little moment over writing the words "my 32nd birthday" above. I'm okay with getting older, but I still have these moments when I think "when did I become a grown up?" 

The moment I started planning "soirees" instead of parties, I guess. 

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Like Pulling Teeth

We're having family pictures taken tomorrow (by my former Abingdon colleague Ashley Miller—check her out). I've planned our outfits and some free-for-all time for the girls with a basket of dress-up stuff, but I still have some anxiety because kids are unpredictable and don't always want to cooperate with picture-taking. even if they do cooperate, it's hard to get a picture where multiple children are all smiling (or at least not caught mid-blink).

Ok, I'll be honest. It's mainly Kate I worry about. Let's not forget last year's display of contrarianism:

 Oh, she can work it when she wants to.
Age 2 1/2

Really work it.
Age 3

Age 5 mos.
But when she doesn't want to, it can be tough. Just last weekend, in Louisville, I tried to get a pic of my girls together on the playground. Here's how that went:
No, I don't want to take a picture with Claire.

I said noooo.

Ok, fine.

Hug Claire? Ok, I can do that...


That's sister love, right there. We'll see what kind of love we see tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Claire at 18 months

So Claire is 18 months today! I'm excited to celebrate her, bloggy-style, but it's late in the evening and I'm kind of tired, partially because dear Clairy-Bear is still waking once at night and then rising early. Usually it's 2:00 and then up for good at 5:30 (though I often lay back down and nurse her in bed), but I was thrilled that this morning it was 4:30 and then 6:15! I'll stop complaining, though. I got to sleep until 9:30 one morning at my parents' house last weekend, since we had grandparental reinforcements around, and it was fabulous.
As to the facts beyond her sleep schedule, I don't know her weight since we haven't been to the doctor yet, but her height when we did her growth chart this morning (we do it on birthdays and half birthdays) was 30 2/3 inches. She's about to outgrow her size 3 diapers, wears size 4 shoes, and is true-to-size in clothes, shifting now from 12-18 mos. to 18 and 18-24 mos. clothes. Her hair is straight and wispy, so I usually do it in one or two ponytails.

Stuff Claire likes: bananas, coloring, walking around in other people's shoes, showing off her teeth and her tummy ("ummy"), cell phones and remotes, playgrounds, Llama Llama books, and—oh yeah—NURSING. 

I've been wrestling for a few months over when to cut her off on the daytime/public nursing. I don't mind bedtime and during the night (I mind getting up in the night, but not because of the nursing!) but so often she wants to nurse not out of hunger but just fun or comfort. We call me the "human pacifier" because she uses me for quick doses of comfort like Kate did her beloved paci. She nurses to have fun with me too, I think, because she's started biting me gently with a big grin, and laughing. I say "no bite" and take her off, which makes her mad. She just loves to nurse, and her most used and enthusiastic word these days is "Nur! Nur!" while pulling at my shirt. ("Milk," to Claire, means any drink in a sippy or other container.) 

Claire also loves her big sis, and says "Sister" and "Kate" a lot. She'll yell to Kate across the gym while we're watching from the viewing area at gymnastics. Likewise, Kate will hug and kiss Claire and say things like "I'm so proud of you!" so the encouragement goes both ways. Kate also calls her "Sweetie" and "my little teddy bear." And while it's largely a stalling tactic for bedtime, Kate will come into Claire's room while I'm nursing her to sleep to smother her with kisses and say, "sleep tight, my little sweetie! sweet dreams!" As an only child, it just melts my heart every time they interact so sweetly.

Stuff Claire doesn't like: when I won't nurse her the second she wants it, when I take away something she wants to play with (remotes, phones, markers, and my lipstick are common ones), whenever I can't hold her and she wants to be picked up . . . and that's about it! She doesn't seem to like green veggies these days, but is still generally a pretty good eater. She's even relatively tolerant of Kate's hugs that are like wrestling moves, tickling that is like clawing, and cuddles that are like choke holds. 

She uses her "No!" quite emphatically these days, and is showing teeny glimmers of the "terrible twos" to come. She'll refuse a certain food offered to her, or the suggestion of an activity, and sometimes has fits of inconsolability, when even offers of things she loves are met with "Noooo!" and a fierce shaking of the head. It's tough to have strong opinions when no one knows what you want!

It's funny how, when Kate was 18 months (and every other age) she seemed so big, but Claire still seems like my baby and I'm shocked when she can do things like climb a playground ladder that Kate did at that age or younger. It's the curse of the younger child, who always seems little no matter what they do. I think back on Kate at two or 2 1/2 and how it seemed like she could speak so clearly and looked so old, and then I watch a video of her at that age and she's so little! Claire's growing by leaps and bounds, but will always be my little baby . . . until we have a third child or a foster child younger than she, and then she'll seem big! It's all relative.


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