Thursday, November 21, 2013

When Christmas Shopping at the Mall

When Christmas shopping at the mall,
the $6 shelled out for a Minnie Mouse camera
at our very first-ever visit to the Disney store is absolutely money well-spent!

When Christmas shopping at the mall,
it was kinda amazing that I didn't even BLINK at the idea
of shelling out that $6. Not even once.
I have SERIOUSLY softened with age.

When Christmas shopping at the mall,
in order to get anything done on your gargantuan To Do List,
it is vital to have a plan of attack.

When Christmas shopping at the mall,
with a feisty two-year old, it is vital
to expect to have that plan shot to you-know-where.
In a matter of minutes.

When Christmas shopping at the mall,
it is necessary to have a kind answer
to the inquiries of well-meaning strangers:
"Yes, dear grandmother, I do have my hands full with THIS one.
As I do with all of 5 of her siblings.
Put all 6 of them together and I am happily and insanely overwhelmed."

When Christmas shopping at the mall,
a very petite Chinese girl strutting through the mall
with her hands shoved into the pockets of her purple cargos
is quite possibly the CUTEST! SIGHT! EVER!
(This was validated by the many passers-by who voiced this over and over.)

When Christmas shopping at the mall,
watching that little one dancing to the Christmas music
WITH her hands shoved in her pocket
while singing at the top of her lungs is HI.LARE.EEEE.USSSSS!

And again, I'm shocked at how I've softened with age.
I likely would have totally "sssshhushed" my other kids when I was a younger mom.

When Christmas shopping at the mall,
and contrary to popular belief (and by popular, I might just mean mine)
Chik-Fil-A waffle fries do NOT make every thing better
for a hungry, almost-tired two-year old.
Worked pretty good for me though.

When Christmas shopping at the mall,
being unsnapped from one's stroller and allowed to walk
with her hands in her pockets again, DOES, apparently, make it all better.

When Christmas shopping at the mall,
someone should remind the "mall Santa" to look up to the upper level
above his big fancy Santa couch, to say hello to his constituents.
As opposed to looking up, startled by the raucous shouts of "HI! HI! HI!"
from a certain little curious constituent.

When Christmas shopping at the mall,
raucous shouts of "HI! HI! HI!" echo quite nicely to the ear
of said little constituent.
Which makes her repeat it. Again. And again. And again.
Through. The. Whole. Mall.
Double Heh.

When Christmas shopping at the mall,
a tired two-year old being forced to "snap back in" to her stroller
for transport out to the car is unpleasant for all to see. And hear.

When Christmas shopping at the mall is all done,
an OVER tired two-year old who drops her dolly
in the car 7 minutes from home has the magical ability
to make that 7 minutes stretch into 77 minutes.

Finally, when Christmas shopping at the mall,
anything productive that you do accomplish from that aforementioned
gargantuan To Do List must be treated as a BIG! HUGE! EXTRA! BONUS!
to the fact that you made it there and back
without losing a shoe, a water cup,
a dolly, a hair bow, or your sanity.

And THAT, my momma friends, deserves a celebration.
Or, if you are old like me, a nap.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Several weeks after we moved into this house, The Boss (who was very excited to have our first ever 2-car garage) felt the need to label our wall-mounted garage door openers.

Pretty self-explanatory but I'm still not entirely sure why The Boss felt the need for the marking. I mean, I'm pretty sure even in the midst of this Gang's craziest chaos, we could likely remember which opener works for which door.

I will say that I can empathize. I am a huge fan of labeling. It's just that I prefer to keep my labeling for things like oats, lentils, and all the different baking chips I store in my pantry. And I prefer my handy-dandy Dymo Letra Tag QX50. (It's awesome! I can change font size AND weight, use white OR clear labels, and so much! more!) But I digress....

Anyhoo, apparently Shaggy has long felt that the labeling system for our wall-mounted garage door openers was lacking something. And apparently, now that he's a full-fledged adult {ahem, snicker, snort!}, he felt it was time to remedy that lack.

I love that kid!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Need (Her) Nap

"Bah, Bah" she mumbles as she sleepily grabs her dolly and sighs while I lift her in my arms. The first two fingers of her left hand find their way into her mouth and she fumbles at the sleeve covering my magic left arm. She fusses and vocalizes her displeasure at not being able to reach my bare skin and I soothe her while I climb the stairs to her room.

We say "Nigh Nigh" to the neighborhood out the front window and shut the shades "together." I turn on the humidifier and shut the bedroom door with a little "help" from my girl. Together, we cross the room and settle down into the creaky old glider-rocker. Her efforts to get at my bare left arm renew and I soothe her again while I push up the sleeve as best I can. This long-sleeve season is NOT her friend.

As soon as she has free access to the kryptonite that is my left arm, she snuggles into the crook of my arm, She lays full length across my midriff and rubs her cheek in the soft crook of my elbow contentedly while starting her "snuggle hum." Those two fingers are getting quite a work-out and after finding her perfect spot, the little feet at the other end start to wiggle.

"Okay, Mei Mei, let's pray. Dear Jesus ("Jee-yah"), thank you for today ("day"). Thank you for .... Amen. (happy grunting ensues)."

"Mei Mei, now that we are done praying, it's time for you to be quiet and go to sleep."


In a matter of seconds, those little feet are rubbing up against my right shoulder. She's quite agile and attempts to stick her toes in my hair. By this time, I have already begun to sing our rotation of "night night" songs and hymns and she's joining along in her (also) off-key snuggle hum again. As she settles into the crook of my arm and her breathing slows, I turn to humming these songs. The rotation of songs is almost always the same. I know it's not the greatest attachment parenting practice, but lately I've taken to humming with my eyes closed and my head resting back to avoid the eye contact that will spark attempts at conversation. Because, as we've learned the hard way, CONVERSE she will! (Plus, I'm exhausted. Like 45-year-old momma chasing a 2-year-old exhausted.)

Several rounds of "Amazing Grace," "Jesus Loves Me," "It is Well," and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" later, her snuggle hum has subsided and sweet sleep has taken over my girl. She's still. And quiet. Oh, so blessedly quite. It's a beautiful thing, watching her drift to sleep out of the peeks that I allow myself as her weight relaxes in my arms. I love holding her while she relinquishes all her grasps at control. All her super-human efforts to communicate and Tell! Me! what she's thinking. All her energies of creating elaborate playtime scenarios and her invitations to her dolls and toys to join the fun. It's no wonder she falls asleep so hard and deep.

This daily nap-time routine has become a cherished break in my day. And not just for the obvious "Mommy needs the break" relief that washes over me at 1 p.m. every afternoon. (You all can "Amen!" me here, I know you all get!) I know that the resulting sleep is so good for her. Her two-year old self needs the rest, physically and mentally. It's hard work being a super busy toddler with  big world to explore. Nap time gives her the rest her body needs.

But the sleep that comes on the heels of this little routine of ours is, in my mind, almost a secondary benefit. The routine itself is just as necessary to this little one as is the actual sleep that follows. The connecting and anchoring that happens with the same-ness of this daily touch point does as much, if not more, to refresh and renew her spirit. And mine... The predictability of the walk up the stairs, the routine of the gentle rocking and my (off-key) singing. This routine is a tangible keystone in her (still) new life whereby she is granted a safe place to re-charge after the long mornings of making sense of this world into which she's been plunked with no warning and no preparation. She needs it.

I need it.

I need the stop in my day that makes me REMEMBER that she needs more of me. She needs me differently than my other kids did at this age and stage. Than they do now. She needs the reinforcement of external routines that speak to her loudly of our perseverance. Our commitment to her. The "forever-ness" of it all. She craves the consistency and the structure that moments like this routine provide to her. I see what unpredictability produces in her. And sometimes, it is not pretty. It sparks a grasping for control. An anxious stealing of attention, no matter how negative. A screeching stranglehold on the security that we are trying to lay as her foundation.

I've noticed that when I don't STOP, when I don't use that routine together as fully what it can be for her, I'm short-circuiting myself and my efforts to re-wire my girl for family (vs. institution). I'm cutting myself off from the opportunity for success. I need that time to re-focus on compassionate responses and facilitating healing. Holding her, singing over her and rocking her in my arms - that routine that (most days!) makes me fall in love with her all over again. And that? That makes me ready to move mountains to get this girl all that she needs to thrive and build on in the process of becoming all God has intended her to be.

I need her nap.