home and parents

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

I have a bunch of blog posts in as drafts and I have wanted to get them finished and posted, but my moral compass feels too dishonest to post anything about our sugarcoated bubble life when my mind and heart has been so distracted by what is happening on the border.

I sat down with my two big kids yesterday, to just talk through things that are happening. I do this often as I care about giving them a wider lens of the world. They are so vastly blessed in so many ways and I hope and strive to raise them up to use their voices for those who have none.

Here were our conversations:

Gemma, 6
Mum: what's the worst thing that's ever happened to you so far?
Gem: um, nothing. No bad things really happen.

Mum: what's the worst thing that could ever happen to you?
Gem: not being with you and Dad. you guys getting dead.

Mum: what do you think could be a reason that me and Dad would ever say, we have to leave our house right now and run away?
Gem: you would never say that

Mum: but let's pretend that we did say that. Why do you think me and Dad would ever take you guys away from our home and go far away?
Gem: maybe because something bad was happening here. Like bad guys?

Greyson, 8
Mum: what's the worst thing that's ever happened to you so far?
Grey: being embarrassed

Mum: like when have you ever been embarrassed!?
Grey: at the championship game yesterday!

Mum: What?! I didn't see anything embarrassing!
Grey: (through fits of giggling) They walked the batter and the guy on first started to run to second and I screamed 'He's going!' and the kid was like, "Dude, it's a walk you can't get me out"

Mum: (laughing) did anyone on your team hear you?
Grey: (hysterically laughing) yea! I screamed it

Mum: okay, let's call Dad quick and tell him that because he will have a brighter day, that is FUNNY, Grey, not embarassing!

--call Dad ---

Mum: okay, questions again - what's the worst thing that could ever happen to you?
Grey: You or Dad dying.

Mum: what do you think could be a reason that me and Dad would ever say, we have to leave our house right now and run away?
Grey: our house burns down? you can't live in ashes

Mum: Okay, any other reason?
Grey: um, someone is trying to kill us? and the first place they'd look for us is in our house?

After the questions with each (during which they sit on or close to my lap while I look them in the face), I told them a little bit about why I was asking those questions.

Mum: I asked you those questions because right now, families are running away from home and going to a place they think will be safe for their kids. The place they think is safe, is here, The United States, but when they get here, they are getting in trouble because they didn't ask to come first.
Grey: why didn't they ask first?

Mum: well, there could be a lot of reasons, if you think of running away, usually it's quick and you don't have time to really do anything.  And most times, it takes a long time to get permission, there's a lot of paperwork and forms and a waiting list. And when you're in danger- or you think your kids are in danger - you can't wait for anything, you just have to go. So what do you think should happen when you get to the safe place even if you didn't ask to come?
Gem: they should help you
Grey: you should say why you came and then they say okay but you have to do the papers still but in the safe place

Mum: well, what is happening right now is that the Mom and Dad are going to jail because they didn't ask and since the kids can't go to jail, they are going to a different building. So they get separated from their parents

Looking at the picture of the centers (while I try to stay quiet and just let them sort through their own questions)
Grey: why are they in cages though?
Gem: what are those blankets?
Grey: do they still get to play? do they get to go to school?
Gem: will they get their moms and dads back?
Grey: how long do they have to stay?
Gem: is the bad thing still at their house? Can they just go back home again with their moms and dads?

I showed them the (now well known) picture of that baby girl crying and told them,
Mum: it says she's two
Gem: Rusty is two.
Grey: she has to go to the cage too?
Gem: I would take care of the babies, momma. and then I would break out of there and come save you and Dad.

After our chats, we spent some time doing read alouds with the babies and then played a fun Mommy-monster game which always leaves them squealing and shrieking in giggles. We had a normal summer day in our safe home in which I could choose to distance myself from facebook and the news and go about my day because it's not happening to me and my children.

because that is privilege. to be able to ever say, 'that difficult thing is not happening to me, so I don't have to think about it.'

And 'difficult thing' could be so much: a sick child, a lost loved one, addiction, racism, infertility, discrimination, weather disasters, depression, a car accident, no wheelchair ramp, unfair pay, over-priced meds, mental illness, broken marriage...fill-in-the-blank.

The important thing to remember is that it's not happening to you...this time. Each of us will go through difficult moments of our life (and at varying degrees of difficulty) and when it is your turn, will anyone help you carry the weight of hardship? Will anyone fight on your behalf?

So much of our grown up worldviews are determined by who said what or little portions of the whole picture framed in distorted justification.

But kids strip all that away because they can look at something and see it in black and white: it is either good or bad. period.

kids being taken away from their moms and dads is bad. It is literally the worst thing that my own children could ever imagine happening to them.
This is bad. period.

Around Here 24: 06/10-06/16

Monday, June 18, 2018

A peek into what it is like to live in our home just this minute.


Intentional Outdoor Hours: 197+ hours (of 1000)
Adding another 28 hours to the count this week. We've had mostly beautiful weather and we got a chance to get out the little pool and sprinkler this week for water fun at home. I let Grey mow some grass (!! he's not heavy enough, so he has to ride with a sibling behind him on the seat and I walk behind the entire time to make sure he's all good - hooray for extra steps!). We've been making good use of the fire ring and the back porch picnic table.  We have had a bad week with ticks though - I took four of of Gemma alone! - the kids have been busy cutting a maze and hideout in the weeds which has been so fun to watch them imagine natural playgrounds - but also...the ticks.

Reading and finishing two books this week! I finished my Books & Brews book club book The Only Girl in the World by Maude Julien and was intrigued and horrified. Looking forward to book club so we can debrief about this one! I started and finished a YA novel, Famous Last Words by Katie Alender which was recommended to me by a student this year. It was a ghost mystery story and was really captivating and a perfect easy summer read. (thanks Faith for the suggestion!)

Enjoying long summer mornings that come with #nobedtimesummer. The kids are sleeping in until 10am some days (!!) but we are realizing quickly we need to make some restrictions on bedtime because Rust has been an overtired monster at night. He is staying up longer than anyone! It has been borderline heaven with the kids sleeping in, giving me a chance to nearly complete our 2016-17 yearbook (!!) and do some writing and planner organizing.

Updating our outdoor toys with a trip to Toys R Us (60% off closing sale!) with Greyson's birthday and 1st holy communion money in hand. He purchased his own good bike with his money, and then because it was such good deals I got the babies both scooters and Grey put more money towards a new scooter for himself (with peddles, like a moving elliptical!) They have been non-stop on those scooters that past few days and the babies and I even took our bikes to the high school parking lot while we waiting for Gem's cheer practice to finish.

Worrying about Trixie when she woke up with a huge swollen throat and jaw seemingly out of nowhere. Poor thing was so pitiful looking and then I had such a struggle getting hold of the vet, but finally we got through and had her seen that same afternoon. Turns out she had an abscess under her chin from some puncture wound (could be a million things as she chews everything constantly including about a baseball a day) that had become infected. We got her some antibiotics and it drained a little bit and she was perked back to normal by the next day!

Summer sporting with the final weeks of regular season baseball. Grey's team made it to the championship game after a win on Thursday. They had first round of the 'ship on Saturday and they won! Grey was so excited and the team has come so far together this year. I was grateful to have some fans (Uch & Kevin and Mimi) there at the Saturday game while I helped in the concession stand. Gem attended cheerleading camp M-R each evening and had a great time learning cheers and spending time with some of her besties (Mya, Emma, and Kenli). Our co-ed volleyball team had a double header on Tuesday night but we had to play without B as he had a school board meeting.

Celebrating a good season with the baseball coaches and their families with an impromptu fire at our house. Grey was in all his glory to have some of his teammates over for the evening and I scrambled together some s'more materials (did you see these on Pinterest, so easy!) and quick pizzas for those hungry monsters (thank you baseball fundraiser! hah!) Then we attended our favorite babysitter's graduation party to honor our Miss Hannah on her high school graduation. The kids were glad to get in some playtime with the Stiffler crew and I was immediately reminded of how happy graduation party food season makes me (LOL).

Making Please Make More Meatballs, tacos, chicken and veggie casserole (times two so I could deliver to a friend down and out with an injury), and sloppy joes. We had peanut butter cookies and Applesauce & cinnamon muffins for afternoon snack and I whipped up some egg and sausage roll-ups for breakfast before the round1 championship baseball game.

Rusty James at two

Thursday, June 14, 2018

my RustMan,

my littlest darling, you are two and you are having so much fun destroying everything in your path. You are our Wreck-it Rusty all day, everyday. After your two sisters, I had nearly erased the memories of toddler boy mayhem from my mind (when your big bro was this age,  I was inspired to write 25 rules for moms with sons because I thought I was actually losing my mind!) and then wreck-it Rusty came out in full force and I was like, "aw crap, here we go again."

It's a step up worse this time because you have a giggling, disbelieving audience at your beck and call. Grey is daily holding his belly in laughter as he watches (and eggs you in) all your naughtiness, while Gem lets you get away with near murder because you're the baby, and Violet is on the receiving end of your antics almost all of the time. You are the most popular person in our family RustMan, there is no doubt about that and boy do you eat up that spotlight, sideways grinning and checking to see how many siblings are giggling at you.

You are such a perfect example of your zodiac sign, the Gemini; giving us constant whiplash as you swing back and forth between the sweetest, cherub faced, curly haired angel who wants to hug us all the way around our neck to an actual demon stealing things from our hands, biting, squeezing, and pinching until we cry out and send you to time out where then you do your 'fainting goat' move and fall to the floor in a heap of tears. Oh RustMan, we will figure out how to balance this emotional seesaw together!

your most favorite thing is Daddy's tractor. You love going for rides and helping us mow the grass. You love saying hello and goodbye to the tractor. When you want to join the conversation, you can formulate phrases most easily by talking about the tractor. "Daddy's tractor outside," "that's Daddy's tractor," "no Mommy's tractor, that's Daddy's tractor." A few days ago you were hand-me-downed two John Deer PowerWheels tractors and I don't know that you'll ever be delighted in your whole life as you were when you saw those. Every morning since, you've woken up and informed us, "tractor mine, outside, go"

You are finally starting to talk after what feels like forever. I guess as the fourth child, who needs to talk when you have bigger siblings who can read your facial expressions and know your secret language of grunts, points, and squeaks. But finally, we are understanding you and you're quite funny. You had me laughing out loud the other day while we were laying in Grey's bed and I was trying to get you to take a nap. You said, "mum, eat" and held out your empty hand. I said, "buddy, lay down." and you said "no, eat" and then you continued to pinch imaginary snacks out of your empty hand and put them in your mouth and fake chew them up. You little weirdo, we were both cracking up.

Your hair, buddy. You haven't had a haircut yet because I'm almost a little too afraid to see what you would look like without that full head of the sweetest curliest ringlets. At this point, your hair is now part of your personality and we've figured out how to (mostly) manage it - so they stay indefinitely. You did have a partial first haircut the other week, when Violet did some experimenting on you with the scissors, but luckily it didn't cause any visible damage. Your hair is certainly the first thing everyone notices about you ("omigosh! look how beautiful" as people pull down your ringlets gently to watch them bounce back into place, hah) but it isn't the only thing they notice about you which makes me happy. Your hair can draw people in, but it's your silly personality and sweet smile that makes them want to stay.

You are quick-moving, curious, and fearless which is the trifecta of dangerous boys. We often find you in perilous situations where we need to act as crisis negotiators; stay calm, smile, distract. Your bigger siblings have caught on that it when it comes to danger with you, it is safer to react calmly than it is to show any sign of distress because you will act out recklessly just to watch us squirm.

You have each of your siblings figured out already. If you want to play rough, you seek out Grey - if you need loved and snuggled and babied, you find Gem (many times calling out "Demma!" from wherever you need rescued - poor girl, she is such a sucker for you!) and when you feel like playing pretend (or bullying) you find your "Dially." You still prefer me only slightly to Dad and I'll be holding on to that for as long as possible - because if you are anything like your big bro, it will be short lived and soon you'll be all Dad, all the time.

You love talking on our 'hellos' (phones), and eating 'chippies' or 'chawkit' (potato chips or chocolate chips). Your favorite animals are cows but you also love Grey's hamster 'Pike!' (Spike) You have a little tricycle motorcycle that you love, you don't use the peddles yet, but you can get around so fast on that thing by moving your feet. You love taking baths (not washing your hair though) and if you could be naked all the time, you would be. You sleep in a toddler bed, you are about fifty-fifty when it comes to potty training already, and you love learning to be independent (putting on your own shoes, buckling your car seat, feeding the dogs..)

Yesterday while I was standing at the oven making dinner, the dogs started barking at something outside and startled you from where you were playing on the other side of the kitchen. You hopped up and ran over to me and grabbed a hold of my leg and half hid behind me. And because you're the baby, I had my chronic nostalgia flag go up in my heart, "remember this momma, he'll be the last one to do this." Everything with you gets cherished just a little bit more because you, our baby, are like rose-colored glasses come to life.

RustMan James,
I will be loving you forever.
Even when you, my baby, get so big
even bigger than me!
my babiest babe forever
i will be loving you.