Saturday, February 4, 2012

Anything is Anything.

I remember the day I taught Harper about using her imagination. The moment was likely born out of a “oh crap, I think I’m letting her watch too much TV” moment. We were playing with some of her people. Oh, right, I haven’t mentioned her “people” before. Harper has a fine and extensive collection of little plastic figurines - mostly playskool (a reputable children’s brand whose very name teaches my child to spell incorrectly. Weird.) little peoples, some winnie the pooh, some miscallaneous dollhouse people from a yard sale, Peter Pan figurines, barn animals, zoo animals, a plastic cinderella and her crew, etc. There are probably 40 of them - no lie, and she knows the names of all of them. I like to think this makes her quite relational and bound to be on Young Lie staff someday which I think is a pretty harmless ambition I hold for her. As long as I’m not giving her spray tans and flippers (which correct me if I’m wrong, are partial, removable, veneers for little girls) for the upcoming Miss JuneBug pageant, I think I’m doing all right. I am not a violent person but Toddlers and Tiaras make me want to actually blow up those budget pageant venues. I mean, like bomb them. Those and strip joints.

Where were we? Oh right, nowhere. Oh yeah, Harper’s “people.” So I’m pretty sure we were acting something out with her little people and I told her to pretend that an empty diaper box was a barn. Harper headed right into the crazytown that is a child’s imagination and has yet to look back. I ADORE this about her. So we role play cinderella, doctor, zookeeper, snowstorm, river rafting a basquillion times a day. It is simultaneously entertaining and exasperating as I sing the bippity boppity boo song for literally the 30th time in a day. But the most hysterical part about this type of play is that anything can be anything. Meaning Harper will use whatever object is close at hand to play a role in her current adventure. For example - Harper LOVES the scene in Cinderella where the mean stepsisters tear off Cinderella’s “beads and sashes” dress as she calls it when they realize she has used their beads and sashes. Yes, there is a small, cautious part of me that is concerned about her attraction to this kind of chick fight but I’m not sure this part of myself is all that wise and I am SURE this part of me is all too fretful so I tell that part of me to pipe down and we watch the scene again. To act this scene out out she covers me (Cinderella) with anything semi-soft to represent the beads and sashes dress - today I was covered with one white bathrobe, 3 burp cloths, a Bjorn, a beaded necklace, a plastic flute somehow made the cut, and a pair of dirty pajamas. On cue I say “Do you like my dress? Do you think it will do?” To which she (the mean stepsister) revels in the chance to say “No! Those are my beads and my sashes!” and rips every semi-soft item off of me and throws them fairly aggressively across the family room. Then we do it again. And again.

Anything is anything around here.

Case in point - the pic below. All our stuffed "peoples" were at school and needed bowls of water. So while it may look like her teddy bear is soaking in some Jesus Calling, he is actually drinking in "not too hot, but not too cold water" from his water bowl. And if I could have panned out you would have seen about 25 other animals doing the same.

Yesterday during breakfast she had a small chunk of peel from a clementine and a banana peel on her tray. She took the piece of clementine peel and wrapped it lovingly with the banana peel and said “It’s okay, daddy’s here.” Can’t name that movie quote? Fidning Nemo, people! The beginning scene where Marlin holds Nemo (still in his little fishy egg) in his fin and says “it’s okay, daddy’s here.” I’m telling you, anything can be anything with this child. Around Christmas time two chicken nuggets acted as King Herod and Jesus, arguing over who would be King. Today she needed a veil to act out Cinderella’s wedding. A pink paci was nearby so she asked me to clip it in her hair as her veil. I said yes. You gotta say yes to that stuff.

Someone told me once it’s good to pray the fruits of the Spirit for your children so I try to remember to do that. I don’t spend much time analyzing which “fruits” she is bearing and which she isn’t. We are just living. As freely and obediently as we can. But I gotta say, if RESOURCEFULNESS were a fruit of the Spirit then she’s got that one in spades.

And without further delay and with no context whatsoever, here is a pic of baby B. This is about 3 weeks old which makes a big difference in what an infant looks like, so he's changed so much already, but at the least you can see what a total lovebug he is. Smiling and on the verge of laughter. Love it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Exfoliation and Eye Cramping.

Dry skin. Quite the hot topic for me the past couple days. Yes, I know, my life is overwhelmingly exciting. Living on the edge these days is leaving Baker “exposed” while I fetch a clean diaper or discovering the joys of DVR (yes I know, we’re a little late on that one, as we are on all things technological…I was showing my doctor a pic of Baker on my phone yesterday and he touched the screen to get a better to look, which is only funny b/c we don’t have touch-screens here at the Leathers house). Back to dry skin. It’s funny when you have a newborn, and particularly when you are nursing, that you sort of become in sync with your baby. When he’s hungry, I’m hungry. When he’s sleepy, I’m sleepy (aka, all the time), when he has to go, I, well…you catch my drift. It’s this sort of symbiotic relationship that is beautiful and tough for me, someone who really likes my space. I had a client very eloquently say to me one time, in reference to her clingy daughter, that she doesn’t like to be tethered to anything. I totally get that. I relish the cuddles and hugs of my children but crave my personal space. So Baker and I have been in the business of dry skin as of late. I love to watch babies sort of “come out” of their newborn-ness. Literally from the moment they emerge they are sloughing off something - from amniotic fluid, to umbilical cords, to cradle cap, baby acne, in Baker’s case working out a clogged tear duct, and in the past couple days, a layer of dry skin that just flakes right off to reveal his sweet, smooth, acne-free baby skin underneath. It signals to me that he is making it and I am doing right by him and that’s a good feeling.

These last 6 weeks have been, well, pretty pleasant. We have a very easy time getting pregnant (and are really thankfulf for that) and were able to plan the birth of both of our children around the holidays, knowing that this is a good time for Eric to be more available to us as Young Life slows down at that time of year. It has really worked and has kept me just above the “I’m going crazy” threshhold. Even still, I feel each day, urges to sort of get in my car and drive - not to go anywhere in particular, but simply to be alone and un-needed. Some friends (who are newly married, no kids) came over around Christmas and were lamenting about how long the drive into town was, taking over 5 hours due to traffic. This is a normal thought, because who likes sitting in a car alone for 5 hours? Moms with small children. That’s who. It’s funny what you covet when you are in an extreme season of life.

What helps me on those days, more than anything, is 1) to realize that I’m normal 2) to call it what it is. And what it is is dying to self. It’s a shedding of old skin - of empty dreams and futile desires, in favor of what is good and what is good is Jesus. More of Him and less of me. The sloughing off of self. I am certain that there are places where God would have me die to self that I would not go willingly, only by force. Hills with crosses meant for me that I would not dare approach because my finite eyes could not see the resurrection that is promised. And so He brings to these places despite myself.

Anyone remember those weird “image within an image” things that used to be for sale at mall kiosks? You know, those things that looked like a bunch of colorful, small, thumbnail-size images repeated all over a canvas but if you squinted or did some magic trick with your eyes you could make out a picture of a unicorn or the word “believe” or something? If you don’t know what I’m talking about this analogy is about to fall apart for you. Sorry. My sister was really good at those things. We’d stand there at Cary Towne Center mall and she’d say “Oh yeah, I totally see it! It says “dreams”! Or look, I see it…a mama horse and her foal.” And I’d just be standing there with a headache as I tried to contort my eyes just right. I could only hold my eyes long enough to catch a hint at the image or word and then it would disappear.

Following Jesus is a little like that for me. Eric always says you have to “fight to believe.” And I think that’s what he means. You have to literally push aside evidence to the contrary and clench your fists in favor of the TRUTH and walk on. A long obedience in the same direction, right? I have to hold my eyes just right long enough to see Jesus is with me. To believe that He is at work. To believe that redemption and restoration are real. To believe that the subtle pains of shedding skin are not in vain. That they are the gateways to new life. Fighting (or should I say, squinting) hard to believe that today.

Okay, for real, I need to post a pic of Baker ASAP before you start to think I may be hiding a not so cute child. Because he is, in all seriousness, so beautiful and round and great, and today, a little more flake-free.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Semi-Resolute.

For real this time.

Okay so I’m a blog denlinquent. That probably won’t change. I could give you a laundry list of reasons why I don’t blog more consistently, not the least of which is a 6 week old snuggled in his bed right now who has captured my heart forever, but they are mostly white noise. You just have to know that the line between grace and guilt is a fine one for me so I have a total aversion to anything that stands to make me feel unnecessarily guilty. Seriously, when people start talking about their new year’s resolutions I have to stop myself from plugging my ears because even the thought of someone else trying to “better” themselves makes me feel like a loser. In the same way, blogging when I don’t aboslutely feel like it stands to make me feel lame, guilty, and like something must be wrong with me, so I just avoid it all together. I know this doesn’t sound all that healthy, but it works for me. I shut out guilt-inducing behavior with a swift kick to its rear.

But here’s the bigger truth. I write for me. My therapist asked me a few months ago what keeps me alive. The answer - writing. I know this is true. Then I have amnesia the day after I write and go back to online browsing for a few weeks until something jolts me awake. It’s like a spiritual adjustment (think chiropractor here) as I get lovingly straightened out and reminded of who I am, what matters, and how to keep my soul kicking.

Or maybe I just don’t blog more b/c I feel obligated to have pictures in each post and I’m not good at doing that in an efficient way so that annoys me. Yep, that’s it.

Moving on. I’m just going to write and post it and it probably won’t have pictures and that’s okay b/c I don’t need pictures of what I already saw during my day and I’m sure I’ll get better at posting pics faster and yada yada yada.

I am keenly aware that I am in a unique season in my life. I have a 2 year old daughter. I have a 6 week old son. We spend 90% of our time in the family room. I put babies to bed 7 times a day. I nurse the tazmanian devil (seriously, he’s the loudest nursing baby). Getting back to doing ministry outside my home is inevitably on the horizon and should be a hoot to watch me try to tackle. And if I allow my thoughts to rest for a moment on this fact I am astounded - the God who is not limited by time or circumstance, lives in this corner of my life. He wakes with me. He walks with me. He refines me with fire. And this time is like no other time that will ever be in my life. I need to capture it on paper. Dang it.

So that’s my plan. If you are reading this take a moment to throw out any expectation you have of me making this consistent or even entertaining. I will write for the sake of my own soul. For the sake of remembering. Like an Ebeneezer. Remembering this sacred time. It feels intensely mundane. But sacred it is. Sacred often masquerades as mundane. This has to be true. If it’s not then I am currently on the set of Groundhog Day and I really hated that movie.