The Triumph and Tragedy of Being Three

We had a last minute change in our plans for the holiday break.  Instead of family coming to us, we have come to the family and this has caused great excitement in the three year old mackerdoodle.  For a week and a half she asked, “Is this the day we go to Canada?” every morning.  When asked what she was going to do in Canada, she would say, “eat Timbits and go skating with my cousins.”  Her big anticipation of the trip was that we were going to be getting up while it was still dark and she and the cheesedoodle would be riding in the car in their tadamas!  The novelty was more than a three year old could bear.

Wednesday night she fell asleep with some coaxing but when her brother began to fuss twenty minutes later I found her sitting up in her bed, blanket clutched, asking, “Is it time to go to Canada?”  I thought I had her convinced that it wasn’t time yet, but while I was settling the cheesedoodle, Jonathan began going in and out through the door above the mackerdoodle’s head getting the van ready for an early departure date.  I could hear the mackerdoodle talking to him from her bed, saying, “Dada?  Is that you?  Oh.  Dada.”  I went over to her room and as soon as I sat on the end of her bed, I heard her little dejected voice saying, “Mama?   Is Dada going to Canada wifout you too?”

Oh the drama of being three.

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Trying

My friend Becky began her blog today by saying “I blog less when heavier things are going on,” and my heart echoed the sentiment.  Sure I’ll blog all day long about floors that need to be mopped and hating laundry and the inconveniences that accompany pregnancy, but real struggles, like how hard it is to find a church in a city full of almost identical churches, are mostly locked away in my heart and mind.  This week has been one of those weeks.

We have tenants in our house in Georgia and this month not a single one has paid his rent.  Two claim to have made a deposit at the bank, but the bank has no record and I’ve spent the week calling the bank then calling our property managers who speak to the boys who get back to me so I can call the bank again . . .

We didn’t set out to be landlords.  We were supposed to sell the house, but God had different plans.  Clearly one of his plans was to teach me how to parent two children while on the phone with a bank officer trying to explain to her something I heard second hand from Mimi that was reported to her by one of my tenants.  It’s been trying.

There has been no solution.  The mortgage on the house hasn’t been paid.  I don’t have a “wrapped up in a bow” post about God’s faithful provision in this time of need.  I just have more questions and more phone calls.

But the fact is this:  God is still faithful and He is still the God who provides.  Just because I don’t see it right now, doesn’t mean He isn’t doing it.  I have no idea how or when the solution will come.  I just rest in the knowledge that it will – in one way or another – be solved in a way that leads to my sanctification and God’s glory.

Together They Are A Dynamic Duo. I Wonder What Three Will Make?

My mackerdoodle is a pretty compliant child.  We have our discipline issues with her, but generally she falls on the compliant side of the scale.  Her brother on the other hand – not so much.

We have four suitcases in our living room that serve as storage for various things, and in the almost six months we’ve lived in this apartment (is it that long already?  Only 3 1/2 years to go!) they have rested against the living room wall undisturbed.  The mackerdoodle did not even consider moving them or doing anything more than choosing a movie from the one containing kids movies.  That is, until the end of last week, when the cheesedoodle pushed the kid movie case out from the wall and hid behind it.  The mackerdoodle watched him do it, and watched our (non) response.  Suddenly it was open season on suitcase play.

The first “game” was an expansion of her brother’s original idea, but instead of hiding behind one case, she built a little fortress with all four cases.  Jonathan put a blanket on the top as a roof and she was in there for HOURS.

When she tired of that, she removed the blanket and lined the cases up with the two big ones on each end, and the smaller ones making steps inside.  It was a train, and that was a hit with both kids.  The cheesedoodle would stand on the smallest case and peek out over the front case, like a driver, while his sister perched on the rear case with her feet on the middle case, and performed the role of passenger to perfection.  The driver, being only 18 months old, had a habit of getting down from the train, running around it in laughter, and getting back on, but the passenger didn’t seem to  mind the delay.

They played train for two days, and then it was time for something new.  This time the mackerdoodle asked for my help to put the two largest cases flat on the floor and stand the medium case on its side.  She then grabbed a toy mallet from the play room and stood on the large cases, behind the smaller one, with the hammer in her hand like a microphone, and said, “Welcome to church.  Let’s all sing a song.”  She sang into that hammer with great gusto, “Let’s all celebrate God!  Let’s all celebrate God,” while her brother stood in front of her, holding my small red leather ESV, “singing” along in his own wordless, but no less enthusiastic, way.  They sang “This is the day” and “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and several more verses of the celebrate God mackerdoodle original until lunchtime.

That evening I put the cases back where they belonged and they stayed there for a day, but on Saturday the two kids got the urge to play again.  This time she pushed the kid movie case out from the wall, like her brother had done almost a week earlier, but she moved the medium case in behind it.  She fetched a carved wooden Mallard duck from a shelf in the living room, and placed it on the larger case.  She proceeded to sit on top of the medium case, and say, in a clear, strong voice, “Thank you for coming.  Today we will be talking about ducks.”  Which she did.  For a full twenty minutes, although not all of it was entirely factual.  Her brother sat on the floor in front of her “podium”, coloring and periodically adding his own seemingly agreeing grunts.  Or maybe quacks?

It has been a very entertaining week in the kid department.  I am left wondering what the rest of my life will look like, with a kid who, at three, delivers a nature lecture for entertainment, and an 18 month old who wanted to eat all of his meals standing at his post on the “train.”  Every time I thought about it, the snickerdoodle would prod me as if to say, “and don’t forget me.  I’ll be an unknown variable!”  Which, of course, she will.

On the Naming of a Daughter

Our tradition has been to name our children the day of the ultrasound in which we discover their gender.  This time around the day of the ultrasound also fell on the last day for Jonathan to complete a 15 page Greek exegetical paper and finish translating, parsing and doing grammatical and syntactical analysis on the book of Colossians.  He didn’t have the brain power to consider the finer points of choosing a lifelong identifier for our youngest daughter.

But, last night we sat down to discuss names, which really means we began to discuss meanings because that’s sort of how we begin our process.  Here’s how that has worked out so far for us:

Our oldest child is named “The Lord is my teacher,” and she fills my day with questions.  Some of them sound like this:

mackerdoodle:  Why does daddy shower every day?

me:  So he’s not stinky for work.

mackerdoodle:  Why does daddy wear that dodor. . . dorodororant. . . every single day?

me:   Well when people become grown ups they . . . have some . . . it just helps grown ups not to be stinky.

mackerdoodle:  Do skunks do this (gets down on all fours with little behind in the air) and spray stinky everywhere?

me:  yes they do.

mackerdoodle:  stinky like grown ups?

and some of them are like this:

mackerdoodle:  Mama, I’m upset about something.

me: what baby girl?

mackerdoodle:  I don’t want God to be a spirit.  I want him to have a body like me.  Then maybe I can understand him.

Yeah.  I alternate between laughter and humbled awe at the brain in my three year old.

Our now middle child is named “Victorious Defender” and everything from getting dressed in the morning until falling asleep at night is a type of battle for the child.

So now we’re considering a name for the third child.  In the midst of suggestions like, “the Lord’s warrior” and “the Lord is my strength,” I asked if maybe we could consider naming the daughter Tranquility, or maybe Tranquility Peace.

It’s not on the short list, but a mama can dream, right?

Snickerdoodle is a . . .

. . . healthy and developing baby.

Oh, I’m sorry were you wanting more?

Snickerdoodle is 14 oz with four healthy heart ventricles and developed spine and a hand that waved at us once during the ultrasound.

What?

Is there something else you wanted to know?

Would the information that she’s a girl satisfy you?  🙂

Yes, our snickerdoodle is a healthy and developing baby girl.  I haven’t scanned the pictures yet, but I thought you would all want to know.

Whiter Than . . .

During the holiday shopping season, Jonathan’s Chick-Fil-A stays open later on Saturdays than it does during the rest of the year, so the last four Saturdays I have been in bed when he’s arrived home.  This week, however, with weather people on all local stations forecasting slippery roads, high winds and snow, I was anxious (a sin.  I know.) about his safety, and stayed awake until he was safely parked and through the door.  He scoffed at the warnings, saying that yes, the wet roads had become a little slick with the drop in temperature and there had been some wind gusts and a few snow flakes, “. . . but nothing’s sticking, and the roads are actually drying out,”  he reported.  We soon tucked ourselves into bed and forgot all about the blustery meteorologists and their forecasts.

This morning after our customary family snuggle time (which should really be renamed “sibling weekly wrestling” lately) we all trooped up the stairs to have breakfast.  As the slowest moving member of the family, I was still halfway up the stairs when I heard the mackerdoodle say, “Daddy!  There’s snow EVERYWHERE!”  I chuckled affectionately at her childish hyperbole and continued my climb.  As I rounded the hallway toward the living room, I heard Jonathan say, “WOW.  She’s right.”

Several inches of white wintery precipitation had landed in the seven hours since Jonathan had arrived home, and it had certainly stuck.  All of the neighborhood cars were cozily tucked under a white fluffy comforter of snow and more continued to fall.  In fact, more than eight hours later, it is still snowing, although the flakes have changed from the fat, frantic, holiday card version to the tiny, shimmering, snow globe glitter style.  The gusts of wind will periodically blast over our roof, blowing up a tempest of confused snowflakes which eventually end up coming to rest in the growing drifts along our back deck and portions of our back yard area.

The cardinals and blue jays look resplendent against the white backdrop, and even the slightly drab chickadees are more attractive sitting, feathers fluffed against the wind, on a snowy deck railing.  The wind has refused to allow the trees even a light covering for their naked branches, but even their brown limbs dancing in the swirling flakes look more beautiful than they did shivering in the windy rain yesterday.

It is a beautiful consolation for the cold and the wind and the gray skies;  just a little example of the common graces that come from a good and kind God who can make all things, even winter, glorious.

In Which I Learn a Lesson

This is one of my children’s favorite toys:

It’s also a hit whenever guests come and play.  There’s enough room for one preschooler to lie down and read a book while her brother screams at her, or for two children to sit side by side.  Guess which happens most often in our house.  🙂

I bought it for $5 at a consignment sale before we left Georgia, and it had been well loved before it found its way into our play room, meaning those “flowers” in the “window box” that lie down instead of standing tall.  Another example would be

the large hole in the side where I can only surmise some sort of doorbell once existed.

Last week my mackerdoodle was playing with a set of lacing beads her Grandma and Grandpa had purchased for her third birthday.   Much to my surprise, she announced that she didn’t have enough for a necklace.  There should have been more than seventy large wooden beads in that kit which would be a gracious plenty for a three year old neck.  She had a total of 12 beads.

Where had the beads gone?

I had my answer moments later as the cheesedoodle wandered over to his sister, selected a bead from her collection, carried it over to the little house and placed it in the hole.  When it landed it did not rattle.  It made the “thud” of wood landing on more wood.  A lot of wood.

Why didn’t I see that one coming?  Really, what is wrong with my Mom brain?!?

I sat down to empty the large cavity of the wall accessible only through that one hole.  After pulling out almost all of the beads, I also discovered

Yes.  A basket full of dominoes (a lot more than pictured here, because the cheesedoodle kept taking them out of the basket and carrying them away.  Probably to somewhere with a hole), some more beads, a plastic knife, a plastic spoon and a toothbrush.  A toothbrush.  Seriously.

More than an hour after my bead discovery, I had cleared out everything but two dominoes.

And learned my lesson.

I give the cheesedoodle a week before he figures out he can peel off the duct tape.