Sunday, November 21, 2010
"God is here wit us," Lucy says and squinches herself under the wardrobe. I nurse the babe. Lulie crawls under with the dust-bunnies and Jack's stray bullets. I stroke Rosie's red baby hair. The morning eases in.
"And help everyone lub you," Lulie twaddles.
Prayer drifts up from the wardrobe. Janie's words come back to me, "Momma, I love everything you do just because I love you." And I'm there again as she gathers blankie up in long six-year-old arms, squeezes the love out of it. "I just don't even care what it's made of," she says. "I just love it because it's made by you."
Made by you. I stroke Rosie's cheek. Jane's words turn kaleidoscope, encircle me. I don't even care what you're made of, I just love you because you're made. by. God.
Made by God. Tread lightly.
347. Mountains of clean laundry. Even the dirty load shoved straight in the dryer by eager little boy hands.
348. Jane's gentle words, "Think about what's gonna last forever here, Momma," as I yank a small hill of laundry from the dryer.
349. Six extra hands to ease cookies from mixing bowl to baking sheet to oven.
350. Cinnamon. Penzey's Cinnamon. Sweet, sweet cinnamon.
351. New niece, Rockie Amelia, safely delivered, her shock of velvet brown hair and how my brother practiced swaddling her for me, her mother's peaceful smile c-section not withstanding.
352. Lucy's eye appointment this week. The gift of an expert -- knowledge, discernment, eye-to-eye confidence.
353. Rosie gaining weight. And how she pokes her belly up in the air to the people she wants to pick her up.
354. Good running shoes.
355. Holy, Holy, Holy -- the hymn the children shout for at breakfast.
356. Jack's assessment, "A queen, Janie, is a WIFE."
357. Mango salsa chicken.
358. Banana quinoa pudding, lots of cinnamon.
359. Lentil soup with husband's parents.
360. Pulverized treat bags the children fill with water and smash out back.
361. A new headband.
362. Gray woolen boots.
363. Thanksgiving. Family. Blood relations. And the communion of saints.
364. A house full to bursting with all the family-ness.
365. Strength under control, meekness, parents who embody meekness.
366. Good, good food.
367. A warm rice bag for my feet seasoned with rosemary.
Friday, November 19, 2010
"Jack-Gordon," I say, "hush." Little boy throws a fuzzy duck up at the ceiling, plucks its orange legs out of the air.
"Ok." He flops ducky side to side, "Quack-quack. Quack-quack." He makes him fly and bomb, "Quack-quack. Quack-quack."
"Hush," I cuddle Rosie a little closer. Unflappable girl nurses away.
"Gordon, you said you would hush."
"Oh," he waggles ducky wings.
"What did you think I meant?"
He tilts his head, "I didn't know what you meant." He zooms ducky into the school cabinet. "But I did know I love Momma. That what I meant."
"Oh. Hush means quiet."
He totters scruffy duck into the step-stool, buries him in blankies, snaps the step closed. "There." He thumps little boy feet through the kitchen, trundles down stairs.
"... in all that he does he PROSPERS," Lulie recites from the table between mouthfuls of boiled beans.
I hear the swell of little boy feet pound back upstairs. He rounds the corner, an encyclopedia of snakes tucked under one arm. "This should be quiet," he splays the book open belly down on the rug and reads the pictures.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
"When I'm seven," Janie says, "I'm gonna love it, I just know it." She flops a soft-back reader on to one leg, runs her fingers over the words. "'Cause I'm studyin' to love it," she says then furrows her brow and pokes at the next sentence.
She unravels the words, one line to the next, adds commentary at the commas and periods. I draw circles on her shoulder with the tip of my finger. "Uh huh," I say, "Good job."
Lulie wriggles herself onto my lap, curls up like a kitty. Jane stops, squeezes sister's soft cheek, "Do you want to hear a story, honey?"
They giggle back and forth like a birdie in a badminton tournament until, "Okay, okay, read, Janie," and she opens her mouth and the words come out. From page, to brain, to little mouth, she's making story out of black squiggles on a page. Studyin' to love it.
Later at dinner she dresses a third baked potato in butter and cheddar and spills all over the brown table. I wipe her fragments into a pile. We bump elbows. "I made most of the mess," she comments.
"Was that you?"
I kiss the top of her head.
She looks up, "All you are is just a chunk of love," she says. "To me, you are just love. If I were gonna draw you, I would just draw love." Our eyes smile at each other.
"I love you, too."
I polish potato streaks out of the table and soak in the love.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
"And some day," I say, "you'll grow up and leave home." I smile to Jack, "And, I'll come over, and pick up your kids, and hug them, and hold them, and say, 'Oh, you are co cute!'" He opens his blue eyes wide like plums.
Janie smashes her dinner roll flat like a tortilla. "And someday when YOU leave home," I say. She smiles back, passes a deflated roll over for butter. I smear butter to the edges with the back of a baby spoon and finish with, "I'll hug them and hold them and say, 'Oh, you are co cute!'"
Lulie grins and pounds the table, "And when YOU grow up and leave home," I say. She giggles. The words come out like a Christmas jingle. Then, I sing to Rosie too, and the girls chortle and bump elbows.
"All right now," I say just as Janie almost drags her hair through baked potato soup. "All right," I turn to Jack. Wide blue eyes blink, "Are you okay?" He blinks again and blanches right before my eyes, all splotchy red. "Honey?"
A lip quiver. I furrow my brow. "Oh," I tilt my head. "Oh honey, are you afraid you'll have to leave HOME?"
With that little boy dissolves into a sprinkler of tears. "Uh, huh," he sobs. His little four-year-old hands wrap python-style around my neck. He rubs his face in my ear.
"Oh, honey, you don't have to leave. You don't have to leave." He snuffs. "That's just when you're a grown-up. A GROWN-UP." He squeezes tighter.
Finally, he snuffs and slips into my lap. His little boy head bobs and bumps my chin, an anchor in my arms.
322. Little boy who calls to screaming Rosie, "Hold on baby, I have to do my job," and scrapes onion scraps into the garbage.
323. Janie who tells Jack, "I'm being my name. Jane means God is gracious," and ignores his boy-pokes.
324. Lulie decked out in striped stretch pants and white shorts for bed when she can't find jammies.
325. Rosie smilin' and smilin' and smilin' all blissed-out at daddy.
326. A haul of carrots and potatoes with Craig's mom, good food and even better company.
327. The boxes of books Momma and I wrestle down stairs, the years of love that spille out as I trundle each spine to a new home on our shelves.
328. Dad spry and chipper after surgery -- makes recovery look simple.
329. Baked potato soup (thanks for the recipe, Ceris) and all the guests we share it with -- lots and lots and MORE yet.
330. Twin boys growing and nursing like champs for a dear friend.
331. A sweet, SWEET girl to be born on Wednesday. My NIECE!
332. Her brave momma steeled for a c-section if she stays breech by then.
333. Homemade ice cream made with homemade vanilla.
334. Gingersnaps with cayenne.
335. A fireplace and Mt. Everest of wood stacked husband-straight.
336. Jungle Book, 1894 original story.
337. Compliments from Craig.
338. A late night puzzling with my grown up little brother while Craig snores on the couch.
339. Packing and planning and writing lists for Thanksgiving.
340. A big hard back book of World War II that Jack pours over in search of The Battle of the Bulge.
341. A box spilling with fabric, remnants of a wedding shop, and the friend who brought it.
342. Banana bread, the kind with 5 bananas in it and no eggs, magnificent.
343. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and the raucous cousin-filled house that devoured them.
344. Coffee and conversation with their momma.
345. Lucy's eyesight and how she told me twice in one day when the contact popped out and how we found it both times.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
"Your daddy is so good to me," I say. I hand the chocolate jar to the backseat. Janie tips it sideways, fishes out a chocolate chunk. "I hope you marry someone like your daddy, Jane."
She sucks the chocolate down warm and soft. "I'm not gonna choose just anyone," she says. "I'm gonna spend some time choosin'."
"That's a good idea." I crunch a rectangle of chocolate, watch Janie in the rear-view mirror.
"I'm not gonna pick the one that is the handsomest," she rolls the glass chocolate jar to one side. Chocolates tumble. "I'm gonna pick the one that is the best for me." She watches a truck with ladders on the back pass in the left lane.
"Sounds like you'll pick a good one," I say.
We settle into the quiet rhythm of conversation. It weaves through traffic with us. She passes me chocolates; I let her hold the old mason jar. I ease into a parking spot; she spins the lid back on.
"I have not been eating chocolate at all," she says as she passes it back up front. "I've just been sitting here listening to you talk."
She grabs her wallet. I balance packages and swing the car door shut. Listening to me talk. Listening. to. me. Wow. Always on stage.
304. Crisp grapes.
305. Almond sugar cookies.
306. Books -- a whole library full, lined spine to spine in the basement.
307. Jane's listening ear and how she says the hard things probably happen because God wants to keep me humble.
308. Our children's wide eyes when I read Where the Red Fern Grows at night.
309. How Janie leaps out of the couch and demands that Little Ann LIVE when the small hound almost drowns in the winter-cold stream.
310. My tight throat and bleary tears and how everyone piles on us while we read.
311. How Lulie takes care of all the baby dolls in the house. Even Janie's.
312. Her incredulous frown when I suggest we just shake the pretend poo-poo out of the dolly diaper.
313. Whispering, "You are special," into the children's ears at night before bed.
314. New hair trimmers to tame little boy hair.
315. Jack's insistence that I cut off his girl hair.
316. An estate sale with lots and lots of books. Classics. Old.
317. Dates with each of the kids. Chocolate or lifesavers. The talk and play.
318. Rosie splashing my sleeves wet in the bath.
319. The almost-tidy-house, the almost-banana-bread still in the fruit basket, and the almost-frustrating night that ended in crunchy grapes and a puzzle instead.
320. Husband. A good, good husband -- ceaseless joking, irrepressible humor, funniness in every moment.
321. Another week. Another whole week.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
"This is something that a lot of people question among themselves," Janie says one day at lunch, "how is God made?" She leans on an elbow, bites into her sandwich.
"That's a good question." I slide onto the table bench. "What do you think?"
"I. don't. know." She chomps each word and then whispers, "How did God get made?"
I scoop salsa onto a chip, "No one made Him."
"How did He get there?"
"He's always been there."
"Interesting," she furrows her brow. I watch her look out the window into the yard.
"That's why he's worth worshiping," I say. If you knew how He got there He wouldn't really be worth worshiping."
I look at her sideways, "He wouldn't really be much bigger than you."
"Oh." She takes another bite of sandwich, looks back at me, "Do you think when we get to heaven we'll know how God got made?"
"I don't know."
Jack turns to us, "God might tell us," he says.