/> Raising Angels: January 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

In the Mission Field

Yesterday the kids to the local grocery store to allow them an opportunity to choose a piece of candy as a reward for some excellent behavior. We picked a closed aisle so we wouldn’t bother anyone. The four of them poured over the choices. The cashier in the lane next to us peered around the corner more than once. I was feeling a little self conscious of my brood when she finally spoke up.

“These all yours?” she asked in a bit of disbelief.

“Yes mam.”

“They look like very well kept children,” she told me.

I was relieved that her observation of us had left her with that impression. It was a good moment for the Parris crew to be sure. Everyone was happy, well behaved and relatively quiet.

As we were checking out, the young lady looked at us again and finally asked, “How do you do it?”

“Do what?”

“Stay so calm and put together. You are just so peaceful.” She said this with a tone of true wonder. I could tell this was no passing comment. She really wanted to know how I did it.

“Well,” I told her quite honestly, “I don’t always look like this.”

“But you have four,” she said in amazement. “I only have two and it’s so hard.”

“You know, I think it actually gets easier the more kids you have. It gives you a chance to put into practice all the things you learn.”

She unloaded a plethora of questions after that. By the time she was finished she had tears in her eyes and told me how she has two kids and she cries a lot.

I tried my best to encourage her. I let her know in no uncertain terms that everyone has moments like that. I ended by telling her to hang in there. “It will get easier.”

She came around to where my kids were happily holding their newly acquired candy. “Do you know you guys have a great mother? Do you know how lucky you are?”

I walked out of the store a little taller. I felt so blessed that we had had that really wonderful moment at the very moment someone else needed us to.

I have spent a lot of time over the past several years lamenting the fact that I can no longer do mission work. Today God reminded me that I am indeed a missionary. I may not be in a foreign environment, but I can still reach people who need to see Him. I didn’t do it on purpose. I was just doing what I’ve been doing for the last 9 ½ years.

What I learned today is that someone is always watching us. There is a big part of me that finds that very, very scary. As I told the cashier, I certainly don’t do it perfectly and what she saw that day at the store is as much the exception as the rule. But the other part of me…the single, prayerful missionary I used to get to be…is truly excited by the opportunity before me.

By working to make a difference in the lives of my children, I can make an impact in the lives of others. That, to me, is simply amazing.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Case In Point

"Mama," Aiden asked me this afternoon, "do you think I'm the person in this family who asks the most questions?"

"Yes, without a doubt," I told him.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cute Little Devil

Is just what I found this morning at the breakfast table.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

When Will I Learn?

Today when I got home from teaching, Dawson was working on a 550 piece puzzle he got for Christmas. He asked me for some help so I threw down the books and sat with him for a few minutes.

Max's therapist arrived and after I got him settled, I told Dawson I had to go do some of my homework. "Aww...Mama, I wanted you to help me a little more." I said yes.

As I sat with my son and we worked on the massive project, I found myself briefly thinking that I needed to stop playing and get to work. And then I had to tell myself that this is my job too. Playing with Dawson is maybe the most important thing I did all day.

I don't know why it's still so challenging for me to remember this. Am I crazy for not getting this? Yes, I am strange...but I am learning.

Monday, January 25, 2010

If You Like to Talk to Tomatoes

You should have come with us a few weeks ago. I tried to talk Mackenzie into coming but apparently the Veggie Tales don't excite her any more. I was worried the big guys might follow her lead but I was wrong. Running into vegetables this big with arms and faces makes quite an impression. Of course eating cake and getting balloons certainly helped to make the outing more fun.
Max was so enthralled he had to go talk to them one more time before we left.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Some Fun at the Futurity


Thursday, January 21, 2010

A New Tool

Tomorrow is the end of the quarter so I was averaging grades this afternoon. I attracted some attention from Dawson. He entertained himself with my things while I fixed him lunch and when I was done he asked, "Are you ready for me to give you back your vocabulator?"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Dual Workout

Today we had our annual Little Sisters' skating party. Since my girls are proficient skaters, I took the opportunity to skate with a few of the faltering first graders.

Those poor little girls were falling all over the place. I extended my hand to one of them and she willingly grabbed it. I held her up as we did our best to skate around the rink. When a second little one grabbed my other hand, I began to get a little nervous. I'm no expert on skates and holding up two girls while trying to prevent them from skating into me and each other was no easy task.

It didn't take long before my arms really started to hurt. Interestingly enough, I found myself thinking how this was actually a mixed blessing as I have been having a hard time fitting in exercise lately.

It was in that brief moment that God showed me something about suffering. There is benefit in suffering because it makes us stronger. Our own suffering, as well as aiding those who are suffering, serves to build our spiritual muscles. It's God's own way of giving us a work out.

I left the rink grateful for a simple lesson learned…and a tiny bit exited about my sore arms.

Monday, January 18, 2010

No Problem

This morning the boys and I headed off on an adventure of our own. Both received two-wheelers for Christmas and have been dying to go on a ride so I loaded the three boys (Mackenzie and Nelson were out), two bikes and a jogging stroller into the car and headed across the river to a path specifically for this activity (read - NO CARS). No problem...I thought.

We started from the recreation center because I knew there was a water fountain and bathrooms there - a good start for my crew. Sure enough, by the time we arrived, someone HAD to go potty. We got out and walked to the center, which was closed. So we loaded up again and drove to a bathroom...no problem.

After some much needed relief we drove back to the path, unloaded the bikes and went to the water fountain to tank up before the ride. It wasn't working...no problem. I grabbed the water bottle from the car and off we went.

Not more than a hundred feet into the ride, one of my guys began to complain. "My legs hurt Mama." "Can we turn around?" "I'm tired." "I'm thirsty." No problem, I thought, I'll just distract him until we reach the water fountain on the path.

In the meantime, the other son was having the time of his life. We worked out a deal where he could ride ahead of me, the baby in the stroller and the boy constantly complaining on the bike. When he got too far ahead, I'd call him and he would turn around, ride back to us and go ahead again. No problem, we're still having a relatively good time.

About fifty feet before we reached the water fountain, I heard a clunk and then jogged past a bike pedal on the ground. I looked ahead and asked slightly less complaining boy if that came from his bike. Indeed it had. This, I thought, could be a problem.

I stopped the boy ahead, pulled in the stroller and tried like crazy to fix the pedal. Soon another cyclist pulled up next to us and offered to help. He was just as inept as I was. We walked the bike to the water fountain where I found a cyclist with a pack on his bike. I asked him if he could help but he had no luck. Okay, this is a bit of a problem.

We filled up the water bottle as the third cyclist, who actually had tools, offered his help. He got the pedal in better than the rest of us and so I was hopeful. He wasn't sure the pedal would stay on but I told him not to worry. After all, we were turning back here. I asked about how far we were from the parking lot. "1.7 miles," was his empathetic reply. Houston...we definitely have a problem.

We turned around and headed back. The pedal fell off again thirty feet later. So the boys very graciously took turns on the one working bike and pushing the stroller, while I wheeled the broken bike. The entire 3 1/2 miles took us a little over an hour, but we made it, relatively unscathed and happy.

"Thank you SO much for taking us on a bike ride Mama," said the happy bike boy. "I wish we could ride forever!"

"Yes," said the now uncomplaining boy with the broken bike, "thank you for the bike ride."

"You're welcome guys. How bout we go get a Frosty?"

"Yay!!!" came the high pitched screams from the back of the car. And suddenly, no more problems.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Today in the car, Nelson was trying to get Dawson's attention when he pulled out the typical parental laundry list of names to get to the one he was shooting for. "Mackenzie, Aiden, Max, Dawson, Aiden..."

"Daddy," said Dawson with calm and reason, "I'm Dawson. Aiden's the one with the red hair."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Oh, What's Become of Me?

Bedtimes around here have always been adhered to pretty strictly. Sleep is important to me. Of course, there are times when we make exceptions like holidays, vacations and summers but even then we try to keep some semblance of a schedule. It works for us and the kids.

Lately though I’ve noticed a bit of a different trend with Max. Instead of putting him to bed first or with the other kids, it’s not unusual for him to be the last kid standing. This is not because he refuses to go to bed or because he asks to stay up. It just seems to happen.

I let him toddle around with me as I tuck the other kids in. He goes to each one requesting “huggies” and happily tells them “goo night”. We work in some therapy by walking down the stairs together and celebrating his hard work. By this time the house is quiet which enables me to have moments like this when I putting him to bed.

Tonight, however, things went a little differently. Nelson had been out with Mackenzie, the big boys were in bed and I was cleaning the kitchen while Max wandered around. He came to me with the case to Curious George in hand and sweetly said, “Atch monkey pease.” How could I possible say no?

By the time I finished with the kitchen, Mackenzie had gone to bed and Nelson had gone up to the office to work. I walked into the family room and there was Max – planted sweetly in front of the TV, mesmerized. I didn’t have the heart to sweep him away.

I sat on the couch behind him and began poking around on the computer. The next thing I knew he was climbing up on the couch. “I sit by you Mama,” he informed me as he settled in. He put his hand on my leg and looked up at the computer, “’At’s that Mama?” And so we had a brief conversation before his eyes turned back to the movie.

I knew I should put him to bed. I knew this was bad for him. I also knew that I liked his company. I leaned over and gave him a kiss. He leaned back and returned the favor. We did this a few more times before he instructed me, “Kiss my nose,” and so I did.

Before I knew it, the credits were rolling, my little guy was all but sitting in my lap and it was 9:30! I scooped him up and quickly got him to bed as he let me know, “I go nigh night now.” I walked out of his room feeling slightly guilty for my self-indulgence.

As I sit here, what I’ve decided is that I’m the parent and it’s my prerogative to have moments like this one. Granted, I should probably have them mid-morning rather than late evening but, I should have them.

Bottom line is that I do not plan on making late movie nights part of the schedule with my baby. But tonight…tonight, I am really glad I did.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's the Little Things

My latest, most favorite Maxism is his squeal of "Wah-Hoo!" when he's doing something completely fun. He has never heard any of us say it. He is never coaxed to say it. He simply lets is fly at the most appropriate moments.

It is cute. It is funny. It is pure unadulterated joy.

I love it!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Scissor Scandal

This morning Dawson hopped out of my bathroom, scissors in hand and smile on his face.

"What have you been up to?" I inquired suspiciously.

"I'm cutting things," he answered as he happily bounced away.

I walked into the bathroom to find one big chunk of Dawson-colored hair on my counter. I then immediately turned around to find Dawson and survey the damage. "Dawson!" I said in a tone only a mother can muster.

He stopped dead in his tracks and stared at me with his big, blue, totally guilty eyes. "Do you know why you're in trouble?" began my inquisition.

There was a pause while his eyes grew even larger. "Umm...because I cut things?"

"What are you allowed to cut?"

"Paper," he honestly admitted.

"And...” I asked already knowing the answer, "what did you just cut?"

Oh the horror of it all! I could feel his fear but also his awe at how I could possibly know what he had done. He gave in immediately. "My hair," was his honest admittance.

It was a moment of many emotions for me. It was difficult not to burst into laughter at his utter plea for help. It was - and I hate to admit this - a little fun to be the all-knowing force in the situation. It was tough...so very tough to have to be the one to deal with the whole situation.

Such is the life of a parent…and the slightly scalped little boy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Degrees of Separation

Last Friday we started school one hour late because of the threat of increment weather. I arrived a bit before then and walked into the office with the principal to find out how long my class would run.

"Well let's see," he said, wondering himself how to refit the schedule, "we're starting an hour later but we cut out assembly so that means we're only about 20 minutes behind."

I could see the wheels turning in the mind of this resident math expert. He continued on, "Let's just cut that out of the morning classes. So that means about 5 to 10 minutes out of the three morning classes. And we still have the breaks."

He went on some more but I have to admit that I totally tuned him out. I was still on a high from the Alabama victory the night before, not to mention working on about 5 hours sleep. It really didn't matter to me how he worked it out, I just needed to know when to end my class.

Unfortunately, while I was tuned out, he had scribbled the adjusted schedule down on paper and handed it to me. "Does this look right to you?"

Stunned for a moment as I tried to clear my vision enough to see the numbers...forget about figuring them out, I asked, "Why are you asking me? Shouldn't you ask A.? He's the math teacher."

The principal quickly replied, "I'm asking you because you're the one with the master's degree. You're a smart young woman."

"D.," I calmly interjected, “I have a master’s degree in school counseling.” Then placing my hand on his arm, I looked him in the eye and asked, “How does this schedule make you feel?”

Friday, January 08, 2010

In the Blink of an Eye

Tonight as I was rocking Max a thought occurred to me. He has only a few more short weeks before he turns two...the age when the baby becomes a toddler.

This simple thought gave me more than a moment's pause and so I held him and rocked him longer than usual. His body was as still as it gets during the day. His arms were wrapped across me. His little hands were spread over my arms - arms I am certain that someday soon he will envelope with those same hands. My lips were pressed against the top of his sweet head so closely that I could feel his rapid heart beat and smell the sweet smell of his freshly washed hair. These last moments of his day are the closest we ever come to his very beginnings within me. And, for a moment it felt as if the two of us were one.

It was such a peaceful moment that I didn't want to let it go. The steady rhythm of his breathing combined with the motion of the rocker very nearly put me to sleep. Yet, I knew that I had to put him in bed. If I held on too long and we both fell asleep, sooner or later neither of us would be happy or peaceful.

I was painfully aware, as I placed him in his crib, that this is the life I have chosen as a mother. Every moment of every day includes decisions concerning when to let go and how long to hold on. I'm not sure if it's the wisdom that comes with age or the experience I've gained as a mother that has helped me to appreciate this position more and more with each child. Although it's necessary, it's never very easy to let go of one stage and move on to new and uncharted territory.

The best part of tonight was the realization that all this is happening. With the first three arriving within four years of each other, I couldn't breathe most days, let alone think. With Maximilian, however, I have been ever so appreciative of each little moment and stage.

I know now what I never believed in those first six years of parenting - it really does go by in the blink of an eye...and I don't want to miss one precious minute of any of it.

National Champions!

All I can say is ROLLL TIDE ROLLL!!!!!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Excitement's In The Air!

This morning Nelson gave me his usual goodbye kiss and then walked out of the room. A moment later, he came back with a big grin on his face and planted another kiss on me. "Happy National Championship Day!" he said as he...almost...skipped away.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Visions of Greatness

Tonight we had a priest friend over for dinner. The amazing thing is that before he was a priest, he was my student.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not claiming to have any had anything at all to do with his vocation. Rather, I was privileged to be a witness of it.

Years ago, when he sat in my classroom, I knew that one day he would do something great. It was so nice to see that he is.

Monday, January 04, 2010

It's Hard to Say Goodbye

I'm finding it terribly difficult to let go of Christmas this year. For some reason it just went by too fast.

The beginning of the break was all hustle and bustle trying to prepare for the big day so that was kind of a blur...you know, working on 4 hours of sleep or so a night for a stretch.

But then, oh then, there were the days after Christmas. This time was filled with relaxation. It was filled with family and game playing and movie watching and bowling...yes actual bowling. There were relaxing dinners with no push for homework or bedtimes. There were a few mornings we actually hung out in our pajamas for awhile. It was fun, fun, fun.

In a way the decorations carry with them all the emotion of the season and putting them away just seems very, very sad. Then again, I guess putting them away lends to the utter excitement of pulling them all back out again next year.

But for now, yes now, I write by the glow of the Christmas tree. :)

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

One decade ago I was in Miami Beach with my husband watching Alabama play in the Orange Bowl.  The next day we left on our first 7 day cruise together.  It was on that fantastic vacation we discovered that our family was growing.

Wow!  So much can happen in a decade.  Here’s to another one…sure to be full of many adventures, tales, laughter and tears.