Preschool Goodbyes

I have discovered something.  My preschooler is, on occasion, very unpredictable.  Are you shocked?  Then clearly, you have never dealt with a preschooler!  The thing that has brought this not-so-startling realization to the forefront of my mind is a pattern of behavior that I (suddenly) recognized this morning.Preschool Goodbyes.

It happens about once a week at my house; almost always after we’ve had a really busy few days.  And it tugs at my heart every time.  Apparently, it’s a pretty common thing for toddlers and preschoolers.  So much so that there’s a whole list of “funny” ways to say goodbye to your little one to make parting more fun and less painful.

I was getting ready to walk out the door this morning, heading to work, when I heard the heart-wrenching phrase, “Mommy, wait!  I want you!  I need to give you a hug and a kiss.” Who doesn’t want another hug and kiss from their child?  That’s right – another.  Because I had JUST given her a kiss and hug goodbye.  I hear those words, “Mommy, I want you!” and I know I’m about to be late for work.

I can’t ignore her – don’t judge – so I scoop her up for the extra hug and kiss and take a minute to reassure her that Daddy is going to drop her off at preschool in a little while.  (This whole time, he’s sitting right there, but she wants me.)  Well, what she really wants is for me not to leave.  So I talk about how I’ve got to go to my office and do what I do, but I’ll pick her up from the babysitter’s house after lunch.  About how we’ll do laundry, or dishes, or whatever, when we get home and she can help.  About how we’ll make a cheesy-roll-up for a snack, and watch her favorite show on television.  We pretty much debrief the plan for the day, and suddenly this morning I realized — what my little girl is really interested in is reassurance.  She wants to see my face and know that she is loved as we say goodbye.  Hurried kisses-in-passing don’t do it for her.  She wants to know what to expect from her day, and that her Dad and I have the day’s calendar of events under control.  She wants to know that there will be someone there to take care of her when she needs it.

And when I stop to think about it, I realize that she is exactly like me.  Because this is the same kind of stuff that I want to know:  I want my loved ones to look into my eyes and let me know I am loved.  I want to know the plan for my day, what to expect and where to be.  I want to be reassured that even if something happens that is outside the plan, I have someone backing me up and helping me cope.

And then I figured, if this scenario is common with little kids, I can guess that the root issues are just as common with adults.  Don’t we all want those same things?  I realize this is not a treatise on human nature that is astonishing anyone – not really – but it amazes me to realize how many grown-up traits are already planted within my tiny girl.  Or maybe, more accurately, it amazes me how much alike we all are on the inside – no matter how big (or little) we are.

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When Chaos Reigns

I just had to do a follow-up on yesterday’s post.  Especially after blowing it so completely this morning.  The last thing I want to do is seem all high and holy – I simply do not have this whole thing figured out, and it would be less than honest to let it seem like I do. Because, after yesterday’s post, I’m fairly sure that the Devil was laughing up his sleeve at me while he prepared to throw me a couple of curve balls.

Things were really going well so far this (hectic) month, and I was very pleased.  Ah, but pride goes before a fall!  Last night, we had a fun outing scheduled with our little one.  Some friends with girls close to her age were joining us at a local Christmas Light display, and we were all looking forward to it.  Then, the first hitch: my favorite guy called to say that he had forgotten a meeting that he could not evade… and of course the meeting was right in the middle of when we planned to be gone.  Christmas girls 2014aI’m not sure I was as kind to him as I should have been – it is a wonder this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often with a schedule like his – but, I didn’t growl or complain (much).  We shuffled the schedule a bit and made it work as best we could – started early so he could join us for the main event and then leave in time for the meeting.  He was bummed at the change of plans and so were we, but having him there for a little while was better than him missing out completely.  Overall, it was a slight inconvenience, but manageable (thanks to some kind and flexible friends).  And we all had a good time.

But (and isn’t there always a big one of those somewhere in our journey?) when it was time to leave the fun, my tiny girl wasn’t happy.  And really?  Who wants to leave a place that has a hayride through a super-fun light display, marshmallow roasting, and – most importantly to her – a big play area with plenty of playhouses to climb into and slide out of?!  My exhausted-but-refused-to-admit-it child whined and begged and whimpered and cried that she wanted to stay.  And then she whimpered all the way home about how sad she was to leave, and begged to go again tomorrow.  All while I tried to soothe, cajole and calm her — while driving the van.  On the interstate.  And I did not do it as well as I should have.  I was tired, too, and in a hurry to get us home in time for her bath and bedtime.  Thankfully, our mutual tiredness didn’t result in a major meltdown, but it wasn’t the peaceful kind of busy that I envisioned yesterday.  Possibly, I don’t deal with adversity as well as I thought.  *sigh*

This morning, the tiny girl (who is less and less tiny every day) woke up just as I was about to walk out of the house to head to work.  I hugged her, told her I was headed to work and would see her later… and she clung to me and cried, “Mommy, I want you!”  And rather than feeling the melty-heart moment I should have, I was irritated.  You must understand that we do this dance fairly often.  I’m thankful that she wants me (I want her, too) but this dance we do makes me late for work about once every week.  I was not very gracious; I certainly wasn’t very peaceful.  Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t mean.  But neither was I as loving and patient as I hope to be with her.  Looking back, what is five extra minutes when I am getting that kind of love from my girl, who soon won’t be small enough to “want” her mommy anymore?!  I let the stress of my self-imposed requirement for total punctuality rob me of the chance to reassure my daughter of her Mom’s love.  What a mommy fail.

So, back to the drawing board for me.  Teach me again, Father, what patience and grace and peace and love look like.  I haven’t got it yet, but I’m trying.  And I’m so thankful that Your love and Your patience never fail me.

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Welcome to the Chaos

Welcome to the chaos… of the holiday season!  I always seem to approach the months in which we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with equal parts anticipation and anxiety. I absolutely love the holidays – I love getting to spend time with my family, thinking of special things to do with my little girl, eating the decadent foods I otherwise never enjoy, and I love the idea of relaxing with a cup of coffee and a book once all the work is completed.  The anxiety comes in when I remember that I almost never actually accomplish the relaxation that I envision, because the work never seems to be done.  Am I right?  There are so many good and wonderful things to do during this time of year that our calendar easily fills up with fun “experiences” that we want for our little one (and for ourselves, if I’m honest).  The days begin to run together and I run out of time to enjoy that elusive coffee-and-book-break.

And honestly?  I just hate that feeling.  That rushing-and-stumbling-and-trying-not-to-fall feeling that I get when I try to do everything.  That resentment that builds when there is one more thing that needs my attention, and one more thing added to the list and one more thing that these people want from me!  Seriously – who wants to feel that way during “the most wonderful time of the year”?!  Every year, I find myself feeling like George Jetson – running headlong on a treadmill that is moving too fast, yelling for someone to “stop this crazy thing!”

unwrapping-the-greatest-gift-cover-350hThis year, though, I am working even harder than I usually do to counteract this headlong rush.  This year I decided to force myself to slow down by making time to adjust my focus every day.  Each morning, my family and I are reading a passage in this beautiful book.  (Please, get yourself one.  Totally worth it for the artwork alone.)  We have the companion ornaments for our Jesse Tree that the little girl gets to hang up at the end of each day’s reading.

I’m also working through a four-weRP-W1ek Bible study with the Love God Greatly team.  I have done one other study with them, and I really like the format.  They are simple and easy to follow,  and they give me another chance to pause every day and think about where we’re headed during these four weeks of Advent.

Already, just a few days in, I feel calmer about it all.  I’m pretty sure that’s no accident, because I still have lots to do.  There are presents to wrap, a party to plan for around 60 people, a huge church-wide project coming up, last-minute shopping to complete, food gifts and baking waiting in the wings, Christmas lights, parades and tree-lightings, movies to see with my husband, travel to plan – and that’s not even an exhaustive list.  I admit that when I start to list it all, I can’t help but wonder how I’m going to get it all done in just a couple of weeks.  But I know I will.  I always do… the difference is that this year I plan to enjoy the process rather than resent it.  And feeling calmer will certainly help – nobody does their best work while in panic mode!  I’m hoping to maintain this peaceful kind of busy.

I hope that you have a peaceful kind of busy this year.  I hope that you’re able to take a few moments each day to focus on the promise of Advent and re-adjust your expectation of the season.  Happy Advent!

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A Mysterious Visitor

You know how sometimes strange things just happen?  Things that take you completely by surprise and have no explanation that you can find?  I had one of those moments today.

First of all, you have to understand the way things work at my house on weekday mornings.  My 4-year-old generally wakes up sometime around 7:30 AM and comes out of her room looking for a grown-up.  At that point, I’m usually in the kitchen preparing her snack for preschool.  We take a moment to snuggle, she declares her (royal) desire for “a snack” at which point she also decrees a need to visit the bathroom.  These few parts of the morning routine rarely deviate from pattern.

Well, this morning on the way to the potty, I spotted something leaf-like on the carpet just inside her bedroom door.  I stopped to pick it up in order to toss it into the trash, and to my extreme surprise… the “leaf” jumped!  After my heart rate slowed down again, I realized that what I had thought was a leaf was actually a tiny frog.  He was a bit darker green than this guy,  but about the same shape and size.

green frog

The little girl and I proceeded to chase the wee froggy around the room until I finally caught him so that I could remove him from the house.  I deposited him safely into one of the plants on the porch.  The mystery is how the little blighter got into the house in the first place.  And I have absolutely no idea.  We spent some time outside last night, so it is possible he hopped in while the door was open at some point, but it seems unlikely.  We didn’t carry anything into the house in which he might have stowed away – the little girl isn’t likely to bring a frog into the house in her pocket.  Wouldn’t he have been afraid of all the going-and-coming we were doing?  And how did he make it all the way to the other side of the house?  And why didn’t the little one see him as she was coming out of her room?  It’s a mystery that we may never fully explain.

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On Mystery Books & A Review of The Family Skeleton Mystery Series

Reading books is my favorite hobby.  Specifically, mystery books.  I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember – ever since my cousin passed along a stack of Trixie Belden mysteries when we were kids.  I joke with my long-suffering husband that I “chain-read” the way some people “chain smoke”.  My bookmarks certainly never lie dormant.  I’m noticing lately that there are a bunch of new first-in-series mysteries around, which is a super-good thing.  I’ve been picking them up whenever I have an opportunity and trying to give these new sleuths and their “literary environments” a chance.

My friend (who generously shares books with me) turned me on a couple of months ago to the new series that I affectionately refer to as the “Sid the Skeleton” series.  They’re written by Leigh Perry, and while the premise is a bit bizarre the stories themselves really work!

family skeleton mystery series

Georgia Thackery is an adjunct professor, single mom of a teenage daughter, and the best friend of an unusual character – Sid, a “living” skeleton who befriended her while she was a child.  She’s been away for a while, but has recently relocated to her parents house while they’re on sabbatical and reunited with Sid.  In book one, Georgia is juggling her new job and all her other responsibilities when she is drawn into the investigation of a murder because when she & Sid stumble onto the body it triggers a memory of Sid’s life.  His real life, before he was a skeleton.  In book two, Sid overhears a murder after hours in Madison’s school where his skull is “acting” as a prop for the school production of Hamlet.  Complications ensue, because no body is found and the police refuse to believe the anonymous tip that Georgia phones in on Sid’s behalf.

The series (so far only two books) is well-written and very entertaining!  It is difficult to imagine what an ambulatory skeleton can contribute to the investigation of a mystery, but Sid manages to be front-and-center in completely believable ways.  He’s a wonderful character overall.  He loves his family and does all he can to protect them.  He makes bad bone jokes, worries about getting gnawed upon by the family dog, helps with chores around the house, does internet research, has a blue-ribbon in eavesdropping and is fiercely loyal.  He and Georgia are long-time best friends, and it shows.

Georgia is the lead-investigator and protagonist of the series, and she (again) is a completely believable character.  She has all the worries of a single mom, un-tenured (and consequently slightly itinerant) adjunct professor.  She has money woes, works hard, dates occasionally, does “mom stuff”, argues with her sister and knows having a skeleton for a best friend is strange.  She’s just real – someone who is dealing with the normal stuff of life until a murder investigation sidetracks things a bit.

I’m definitely a fan, and I’m looking forward to the next adventure of Sid & his family.

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It’s time for a renovation around here.  I need to stink less at posting, and not wait so long before I decide I have something to say.  (A year since my last post?!  Seriously?!  That mouse thing feels like it happened just yesterday!)  So… more posts, more varied topics: you may get an occasional book review, recipe (or a request for a recipe), questions about home decor, what flavor of tea you like best, whether or not you use flavored creamer in your coffee… you will just have to wait and see.  And so will I!

Meanwhile, as long as we’re on the topic of renovation – that is what has been going on at my house since Easter 2014.  We just finished a home remodel about a month ago, and we are thrilled with the finished product!  We had our unsightly “popcorn” ceilings removed, which required essentially moving out of our house for three weeks – totally worth it.  We added a new bedroom and renovated both existing bathrooms, added a built-in bookcase, plus a tile back-splash and new counter tops in the kitchen.  Outside, we installed new windows, new siding, put on a new roof and poured concrete sidewalks.  It feels like a new house!  Now, all we need is to update the landscaping (basically, we need some landscaping!) and we’ll be the envy of the neighborhood.

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The One With A Mouse

I’ve never been one of those girls who squealed and ran from snakes, mice, spiders or bugs.  I’ll be honest — I’m not particularly fond of spiders (they give me the creeps… way too many legs) but they don’t usually elicit much more than a shiver.  I’m just not an especially squeamish person.  I think it was my Biology class in high school that did it – we’d start the dissection of something, then we had to go to lunch, and we’d finish the dissection after we ate.  (I wish I was kidding.)  My philosophy is that if I managed to survive that for a whole school year, I can survive most any icky thing that the universe throws at me.

Still, every now and then something happens that makes me twitchy.  A couple of months ago, it happened at work.  I was working in a closet in my office when I came face-to-face with the grandmother of all spiders.  We’re talking Aragog-sized here, people.  She was sitting on top of a box in the back corner, and she scurried away when she saw me. Thing is, I know she’s still in there somewhere but there isn’t any way for me to get rid of her.  I try not to dwell on it, but it’s giving me the heebie-jeebies to know we’re practically co-habitating every Monday-Friday.  If I see her again, she’s history.

Fast-forward to this past Tuesday.  I went into my laundry room to do a load of laundry (crazy, right?) and out of the corner of my eye I noticed that there was a brown splotch in the bottom of the washing machine.  Thinking I had missed shifting one of the little girl’s socks from washer to dryer during the last load I had done, I leaned in to grab it.  Nope.  Not a sock.  I was fortunate I realized that before I actually touched it, because it was a tiny brown field mouse.mouse

He was unusually still, but still looked perfect.  Fluffy fur, not a mark on him – I had to grab a yard-stick and poke him before I was sure he wasn’t still among the living.  He was not.  Poor bloke.

The disturbing thing is that I have no idea at all how he got there.  I can’t decide if he got picked up with some laundry and tossed into the wash and thereby drowned? (Doubtful – wouldn’t he have shown himself?)  And if I did wash him to death, with what?!  Eeeww!  Did the cat chase him into the washer during the night? (The cat sleeps in there, but I heard no scrabbling during the wee small hours, and the mouse was unmarked as far as I could tell.)  Did the mouse crawl in there on his own (why?) and discover he was trapped?

Needless to say, I have a couple of peanut-butter baited mousetraps waiting for any of his friends and neighbors that happen to show themselves.  No takers so far, and it’s been a couple of days.  I have hope that it was an isolated (and very bizarre) incident.

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