Saturday, August 30, 2008

building community

It was a little thing. Spaghetti pie, actually. With bread and salad and ice cream bars for dessert.

She’s a friend from the neighborhood, so I brought the food over hot, right at dinnertime. She brought her beautiful baby girl, their third child, home just a few hours before.

“Thank you so much,” she said as I laid the food out on the counter and tucked the ice cream bars into her freezer. “This is amazing. Have people done this for you before?”

“They have,” I responded.

“Wow. Nobody has ever brought me a meal before.”

Let that sink in. Nobody has ever brought me a meal before.

When I told Llama Papa, he said, “Well, our church does something right.”

“Or, we, The Church, are doing something wrong,” I responded.

(I know. Ask him how much he appreciates my optimism…)

Are we so busy in our churches reaching out to one another that we miss opportunities to serve others in our community? Our own neighbors? Don’t get me wrong, the serving of one another in Christian community is a beautiful thing. Beautiful.

Let it spill over, friends. And not because it’s one more thing you should do. If it’s just another obligation, then don’t bother. But as you build community with your neighbors and the people in your life, as you become friends and care for people, really care for them, let it spill over. Let the beauty of Christian community spill over and touch the people around you.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

bad directions

“Which way to the junior high?” the boy stopped his bike to ask.

“The other way,” I pointed. “But I’m not exactly sure which street to turn on.”

“Okay,” he started riding away.

“Wait!” I called. “Ride up here with us. It’s only another block to the corner, and the crossing guard will know which way you should go.”

“I need to be at class in ten minutes,” he called. “I need to go.”

And then he zoomed off down a side street that doesn’t go through.

I imagine he got to school eventually, fueled on panic and bad directions.

I think about all the times in my life I’ve been at a crossroads, unsure which way to turn. I’ve needed to ask for directions more than a few times. Some have given me good advice, others, not so much. I think of how angry I’ve been at people who have steered me wrong, given me bad directions.

But have I ever considered that maybe I was just asking the wrong person?

Monday, August 25, 2008

loving having just ONE toddler...

The noisy boys love first grade. I love first grade. The house is quiet with just me and the toddler, but hey, I’m adjusting.

Today we went for a walk with a Mom in our neighborhood after dropping the noisy boys off, then took a trip to the library. Just the two of us. And can I just say this out loud? I love just having my toddler with me and going to the library and hanging out. It feels so easy.

Not that the noisy boys aren’t a joy because they are. But. Well. I’m really enjoying just having one child at home during the day.

Oh, and for the record? It’s only day five of school and I’ve already screwed something up. (Besides the school supplies…I’m not counting that because hardly anybody gets that entirely right.)

Nope. It’s the note in the lunchbox thing. A few days ago, Twin B. asked if I could sometimes put a note in his lunchbox because some of the other kids get notes from their Moms and he would really like that.

(I love that my child feels comfortable enough to just ask for what he wants from me. Love it.)

So this morning while I was packing lunches, I wrote a note to Twin A. and tucked it in his lunchbox. I packed Twin B.’s lunch, poured myself some coffee…and, well, this afternoon when I picked the kids up, Twin A. thanked me for the nice note in his lunch.

Um. Yeah.

I assured Twin B. that his special day is coming…tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

first day

Their new backpacks and lunchboxes sit by the door, waiting. “Is it time to go?" Twin B. asks.

“Almost.” I tell him.

I think of all the long days of parenting two babies, then two toddlers, then two preschoolers. How many times did I wish for this day? I wonder. And now it’s here—the first day of first grade—and I can’t believe it.

Twin B. walks ahead with his dad and baby b. while Twin A. and I walk behind them, talking.

“Where do I hang my backpack again?” he asks.

“On the hook with your name,” I tell him.

I watch as he struggles with the straps on his backpack. “This is heavy,” he tells me.

“I know, A. You’re doing a good job with it.” I want to reach over and take the backpack from him, carry it for awhile, but hold myself back. It’s not the right thing for my boy. He needs to carry his own pack.

Pictures and hugs and smiles as they join their friends in line, eager for this new year.

I bake a pan of brownies after lunch, hoping to make this cute pencil cake, but the brownies break around the middle, leaving a gooey mess of brownie stuck to the pan.

No cute cake to greet the noisy boy after school, just more hugs and smiles and a listening ear. Gooey brownies eaten from the pan will be fine, I think, adjusting my expectations.

It is what it is, right? The noisy boys would have gotten a kick out of the cake, but a brownie is a brownie—always a good thing!

Edited to add: The noisy boys had a great first day of school and the brownies were a big hit. Yay!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

school supply hell

I was tired. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. So many papers were coming home from school last spring, I just got tired of filling out forms and writing checks. So when the school supply preorder form came home, I set it aside, inadvertently missing the deadline.

Which is why I spent two hours last night wandering around Target and Office Depot with the noisy boys’ first grade school supply list.

It was a special kind of hell picking through the bins looking for two pink erasers and 24 sharpened pencils and 8 Classic Crayola markers, all times two since I have twins. I realize the math doesn’t sound complicated, but trust me, by the twentieth item on the list you start to question your ability to double. Five glue sticks each, but they only come in packs of three…how many packs do I need? (Don’t judge me. I majored in English for a reason.)

And those were the easy things to find. I also needed two orange folders and four yellow folders and three triangle erasers. Right.

And my personal favorite? Five fine-line dry erase markers in blue. Now, you can find multi-packs of fine-line markers in black, and you easily can find packs of four different colors, including blue, but good luck finding any sort of multi-pack of fine-line BLUE markers.

In the end, I bought ten packs of multi-colored markers to obtain the needed five blue dry-erase markers each. (Anyone need thirty fine-line dry erase markers in red, yellow, and green? I’ll sell them to you real cheap.)

I still need to find two boxes of 200 antibacterial wet ones. Once I’ve got that, I’m golden.

At least I was able to shop alone. And now I know: no matter what, never forget to pre-order the school supplies.

Someone remind me of that next spring when I’m drowning in paperwork.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

good times

School starts one week from today. As much as I can’t believe our summer break is over, I’m ready for it to be over. So are the noisy boys. We’ve had a blast, to be sure, but at this point, I think we’re all craving the structure of the school routine.

Especially after spending over twenty hours together in the minivan last week. For the record, twenty hours is a lot of together.

We drove to Minnesota and back for my family reunion, stopping in the Dells on the way to break up the trip. Overall, the kids did great. The trip home got dicey after about eight hours on the road…but we were only a few hours from home so we pushed through with the help of a bag of tootsie roll pops and a box of sparkle bandaids.

It was so good to be with my family, just laughing and hanging out. We rented a big dorm at this camp where we all stayed. The noisy boys loved swimming in the lake, going out on the paddleboats with their Grandpa, and jumping off the back of a pontoon boat for a swim. Baby b. loved all the attention that comes your way when you’re two and cute, and throwing rocks off the dock.

This side of the family only gets together every other year, so we missed the last reunion. (Baby b. was just a few weeks old then.) It was good to reconnect, especially with my Grandpa, who just celebrated his 88th birthday.

And I have two new favorite games: Ticket to Ride and Bananagrams.